A Brief Glimpse at Matt Strahm & Esteury Ruiz

Aug 17, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Kansas City Royals relief pitcher Matt Strahm (64) pitches in the eighth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

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After a rather quiet start to the Padres’ trade deadline season, things have finally picked up, as the Padres made a move that sent right-handed pitchers Brandon Maurer and Trevor Cahill, in addition to left-handed pitcher Ryan Buchter, to Kansas City in exchange for left-handers Travis Wood and Matt Strahm, as well as 18-year-old rookie ball prospect Esteury Ruiz.

While Wood is somewhat of a known commodity, Strahm and Ruiz are both still prospects, although Strahm had a good deal of playing time at the big league level this season.

In terms of scouting reports, Strahm is the more known commodity, as he has already progressed through the Royals’ farm system and made his big league debut.

Originally drafted in the 21st round of the 2012 MLB draft, Strahm had a great deal of success as he made his way up the minor league ladder, posting sub-3.00 ERAs at almost every stop.

After throwing 22 innings for the Royals out of the bullpen last season, to the tune of a 1.23 ERA and 2.06 FIP, Strahm struggled in his second go-around at the big league level this year. In 34 and two-thirds innings before being shut down for the season earlier this month, Strahm posted a 5.45 ERA and 5.43 FIP with a bloated 14.3 percent walk rate. However, based on his performance from last year, his injury problems this year, and his minor league past, it appears that Strahm still has what it takes to excel as a major league starter.

With above average grades on all his pitches and his command, including a mid-90s fastball and potentially devastating curve, Strahm still looks the part of a top prospect.

He is set to miss the remainder of this season, but odds are he will fight for a Padres rotation spot next spring.

The real prize in this deal was 18-year-old Esteury Ruiz, who was originally signed by the Royals out of the Dominican Republic in 2015 at the age of 16. Ruiz first garnered some attention after slashing .313/.378/.512 in 217 at bats in the DSL last summer. Ruiz has followed that up with an even more impressive start to his stateside professional career, as he has slashed .419/.440/.779 over his first 86 AZL at bats. With 10 doubles, six triples, and three home runs, Ruiz is currently absolutely mashing as an 18-year-old in rookie ball. He’s still built rather “wiry”, as he was last listed as 6’0”, 150 pounds, but he makes surprisingly solid contact for a player of his smaller stature. According to Ben Badler of Baseball America:

“He squares up the ball for high contact frequency and smashes the ball with authority, generating loft and in-game power. It’s an exciting combination of hitting ability and power, especially once he adds strength that should give him a chance to hit 25 home runs. Ruiz played a little bit of shortstop last year but spent most of his time at second base. He looks more comfortable at second base and he doesn’t have the typical quickness for shortstop, so he probably fits best at second base going forward. He’s around an average runner with an average arm, with a chance to grow into an offensive-minded second baseman in the mold of Alfonso Soriano.”

That’s a lot of high praise from a very well-respected baseball mind. I know this may be a bit of a superfluous comparison at this point, but this is reminding me a lot of the Fernando Tatis Jr. trade. When Tatis was acquired, he was still smaller in stature with lots of potential, but now he has grown into his size and is really starting to take off. On top of that, Tatis was also not ranked on the White Sox top-30 prospect list before the trade. Ruiz was nowhere to be found on the Royals top-30 list either. While Strahm is a great get in this trade, Ruiz may end up being the crown jewel years down the road.

1 thought on “A Brief Glimpse at Matt Strahm & Esteury Ruiz

  1. I love how on MLBTR, everyone keeps saying Preller got fleeced in this trade. Cahill is a rental. We needed to get something for him, or he was a lost asset. Maurer throws hard, but he’s scary when comes in the 9th. See last Friday’s game. Buchter is a nice lefty, but he walks way too many batters to continue to be an effective 7th inning guy.

    The Royals are covering Woods’ salary the next 1 1/2 seasons and splitting the option in ’19 with us. Basically he’s a free commodity. If he bounces back, we could trade him next season at the deadline. If he stinks, so be it. He didn’t cost us anything and he will be an innings eater.

    Strahm looks like a nice get. He was the Royals’ #3 prospect before the season. Being on the 60 days dl means we have an extra spot on the 40 man. He is tough against lefties.

    Ruiz seems like a nice bat. If he’s an average runner, he sure can fly on the bases. 10 SB and 6 triples. Nice

    I’m sure Preller was very familiar with Ruiz going into the ’15 J2 signings. He probably knows more about him than we do. He numbers are pretty impressive thus far.

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