The San Diego Padres are in a rebuilding mode of sorts. The team will not use that term, but the writing is on the wall.
A.J. Preller was brought to San Diego to revamp a farm system that had been neglected for a long time. Evaluating talent was his specialty and the young G.M. wasted no time in spending money on the international market. The Padres had, sadly, never really fully committed to tapping that resource. The academy the Padres developed in the DR failed to produce talent at a consistent basis and the franchise never spent like they did in the 2016-17 period.
Prior to the 2015 season, A.J. Preller attempted to build a winning team. But the team has changed gears dramatically as that experiment failed. With the acquisitions before the 2015 season, the farm system was depleted. Jake Bauers, Trea Turner, Joe Ross, Max Fried, Mallex Smith, Matt Wisler, and company were dealt to improve the major league team. The formulation of this team did not work out, but Preller did energize the fan base and create buzz about a franchise that had been mostly neglected.
The Padres’ future looks bright. Despite a couple of rough years, the team and its nucleus of young players have made great strides towards being a productive team.
Towards the end of July, the Padres sent Brandon Maurer, Ryan Buchter, and Trevor Cahill to the Kansas City Royals for Travis Wood, Matt Strahm, and a young, virtually unknown prospect by the name of Estuery Ruz. The infielder was arguably the prize package in the deal for the Padres, though I am sure the front office is pleased with the idea of landing two left-handed pitchers as well.
In looking to rebuild a team, you must surround your franchise with as many high-ceiling prospects as you can. Not all these players will pan out though. Several will never even sniff the major leagues. However, if you stack yourself with loads of talent, some will be successful and be difference makers eventually. At this point, there is a very high likelihood that the San Diego Padres will have a successful run of young players reaching the major league level soon.
Adding to that group of phenomenal young talent is Esteury Ruiz. He was not regarded as a top-30 prospect in the Royals system. The Padres found an undervalued player, and they are about to reap the benefits of Preller’s scouting prowess. Ruiz hit over .400 as a Royal this season in the AZL. He also was slugging at a .779 pace before being acquired by the Padres. It is hard to believe that he was not one of their top prospects, but these lists are ever-changing and constantly being updated. In fact, Ruiz is presently listed as the Padres #30 prospect and it is safe to say he will be climbing that list some more.
Esteury Ruiz has excellent speed. He uses his baseball instincts to make things happen on the field. Take a look at this video where you will see the hustle and heart in full display from this young, Dominican infielder. You cannot teach determination in a player. You have to be born with it.
— The Welsh (@IsItTheWelsh) August 8, 2017
Ruiz was signed by the Royals in July of 2015 for $100,000. He impressed very early despite the low signing bonus, and he continues to display the ability to barrel up baseball and do the little things for his baseball team. He has excellent bat speed and developing strength. Defensively, he has had some issues at second base. He currently sports a .889 fielding percentage after 11 errors committed at second in 181 innings for the Padres. His arm strength is not lacking, but his footwork can get a little shaky from time to time.
Esteury Ruiz has recorded a .356/.397/.633 batting line in 180 at bats this season in the AZL between the two teams. He has smashed four home runs and driven in 32 runners, while stealing 22 bases. He will clearly be an offensive force at second base, but can he get his footwork in order? That is the real question, as we witness this young man grow within the system.
Take a look at this sequence from Chis Kusiolek, who is a friend and contributor to the site. Ruiz gets behind early in both at bats, but battles and makes hard contact. The kid looks like a real gamer and despite the fact he is 18, he could be a fairly quick riser in the Padres’ system.
Estuery Ruiz sequences vs. Seth Corry and Camilo Doval pic.twitter.com/UQWPx2YUbj
— Chris Kusiolek (@CaliKusiolek) August 18, 2017
The Padres are built for the future. No other time in Padre history has there been an excitement about the farm system like there is presently. All these kids bring an intensity to this franchise. They bring a passion. Having dozens of teenage talents in the system has energized this once sleepy franchise.
Esteury Ruiz has a chance to be a special player. He brings a rare combination of power and speed that some compare to Alfonso Soriano. It is way too early to make that comparison just yet, but this young man has that type of ceiling. With a little luck and hours of hard work, he could very well be a crown jewel of the system one day.