6:00pm: The Padres have announced the selection of Ruiz. To create space on the active roster, Rooker was optioned. To make room on the 40-man roster, Robert Suarez was transferred to the 60-day IL. Suarez will now be ineligible to return until 60 days from his initial IL placement, which was June 7. That means he can rejoin the club August 6.
5:25pm: Padres manager Bob Melvin has announced to reporters, including AJ Cassavell of MLB.com, that outfielder Esteury Ruiz is in tonight’s lineup. Ruiz wasn’t on the club’s full 40-man prior to today, meaning a corresponding move of some kind will be required.
Ruiz, 23, began his career in the Royals organization but came to the Padres in the 2017 trade that sent Trevor Cahill and a couple of other pitchers to Kansas City. Since then, he’s gotten the attention of prospect evaluators, appearing on Baseball America’s list of top Padre farmhands in 2018 and 2019. He slid off that list in subsequent years, but he’s forced his way back on with an outstanding showing here in 2022, coming in at #13 on the most recent update. The most recent list at FanGraphs placed him at #25.
Both outlets note that Ruiz has long tantalized with his power-speed combo, but that mounting strikeouts dampened the enthusiasm as he rose through the minor league ranks. In 2018, he struck out 28.6% of the time in A-ball, which he followed up with a 26.6% rate in High-A in 2019.
However, he’s overhauled his approach at the plate in recent years with very encouraging results. Last year, at Double-A, he got his strikeouts down to a much more tenable 20.7%. This year, between Double-A and Triple-A, he’s made further strides, getting his rate down to 17.4%. That’s helped him produce an incredible .333/.467/.560 line on the year for a 167 wRC+. He’s also already racked up 60 stolen bases on the year in just 77 games.
Though he was an infielder in his earlier years, the Padres have been gradually transitioning him to more outfield work, with his last infield appearance coming back in 2019. The Friars have been looking for answers on the grass all season long, with injuries and underperformance hurting their outfield corps. Wil Myers, Jurickson Profar and Matt Beaty are all currently on the injured list. Nomar Mazara has fared well in one spot, but Trent Grisham has slumped this year to a wRC+ of 81. The club has also leaned on depth options like Jose Azocar and Brent Rooker without anyone taking a strong hold on a job. Now they will turn to Ruiz and see if he can translate any of his eye-popping minor league numbers up to the big leagues.
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