What to Expect from Athletics Outfielder Esteury Ruiz
A speed demon is headed to Oakland.
After a strong camp that saw him hit .326 over his first 17 spring games, A’s outfielder Esteury Ruiz will be a part of Oakland’s Opening Day roster. So, what should Athletics fans expect from the 24-year-old outfielder? Here’s a closer look at one of the most electric players in the Minors last year.
Related: What to Expect from Dodgers Outfielder James Outman
A Look at Ruiz
A wiry 6’0” outfielder with elite speed, Esteury Ruiz is the kind of outfielder that fits right in the middle between the old and new-school approaches of constructing the top of a lineup. Ruiz has done a terrific job of getting on base throughout his career. The 24-year-old owns a career MiLB OBP of .363, and posted a .447 figure across AA and AAA in 2022. The new A’s outfielder hit .332 over 437 at-bats last season, and flashed both strong bat-to-ball skills and pop throughout the year.
However, Ruiz’s most-talked about asset is his speed. Ruiz stole 85 bases in 2022, an incredible number that’s quite reminiscent of Billy Hamilton‘s rampage on the basepaths back in the early-2010s. While it will be hard to hit that number in the Majors, it’s not difficult to envision him finishing among the top of the Majors in stolen bases at some point down the line.
Ruiz has been dealt twice over the past 12 months. The infielder-turned-outfielder was dealt from the Padres organization to Milwaukee last August alongside fellow prospect Robert Gasser, and veteran arms Taylor Rogers and Dinelson Lamet for closer Josh Hader. Four months later, Ruiz found his way to Oakland in the massive three-team deal that sent Sean Murphy to Atlanta and William Contreras to the Brewers.
Ruiz saw time at all three outfield positions in 2022. The 24-year-old is no stranger to the Majors, as Ruiz accumulated 35 at-bats last season between San Diego and Milwaukee. Ruiz batted just .171 in the small sample size.
A Look at the Athletics Outfield
With JJ Bleday — who was acquired by the A’s this past winter for A.J. Puk — sent down to the Minors to start 2023, Ruiz figures to be an outfielder that gets regular playing time in Oakland this year. The A’s are in a deep rebuild, and someone like Ruiz figures to get a fair amount of time to see what he can provide both in the present and the future.
Right now, a lot is fluid for the A’s outfield. Besides Ruiz and Ramon Laureano, Conner Capel, Cristian Pache, and Brent Rooker all have a chance to making it up to the Bay Area to start the year. Pache is a terrific defender with great speed, and a former top prospect. But, he’s yet to make an impact at the MLB level. A key piece of the Matt Olson trade, Pache is out of options. Entering March 25, Pache has hit .310/.341.429 with 13 hits.
Rooker, meanwhile, has had a better spring than Capel. The former first-round pick has long been lauded for his power, but has only hit .200 in his brief career thus far.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that fantasy players — especially those who anticipated Ruiz to be on Oakland’s Opening Day roster — have to be thrilled at this move. Given the increased size of the bases for 2023, it’s not out of the question that the young outfielder could be a key asset for owners of Ruiz this summer — so long that he can get on base to make use of his best asset.