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Dodgers promote Ruiz for big league debut

No. 79 overall prospect brought up from alternate camp
Keibert Ruiz was a midseason All-Star in the Midwest and Texas leagues each of the previous three years. (Jerry Espinoza/MiLB.com)
@AndrewAtBatt
August 15, 2020

Needing help behind the plate, the Dodgers have promoted their top catching prospect. Keibert Ruiz , MLB Pipeline’s No. 79 overall prospect, has been called up from the team's alternate training site to replace Will Smith, who was placed on the Injured List with neck inflammation. He was not in

Needing help behind the plate, the Dodgers have promoted their top catching prospect.

Keibert Ruiz , MLB Pipeline’s No. 79 overall prospect, has been called up from the team's alternate training site to replace Will Smith, who was placed on the Injured List with neck inflammation. He was not in the starting lineup but is on the active roster for Saturday’s game against the Angels.

Signed out of Venezuela in 2014, Ruiz has show skills on both sides of the ball and is ranked as the seventh-best catching prospect in baseball.

Proving to be an adept hitter in Rookie ball in his first two seasons as a pro, the 22-year-old continued to produce in his first full campaign in 2017. With Class A Great Lakes and Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga, he batted .316 with an .813 OPS, totaling 33 extra-base hits.

In 2018, the third-ranked Dodgers prospect belted a career-best 12 long balls while putting up a .728 OPS in 101 games for Double-A Tulsa. Ruiz earned a midseason All-Star nod and represented the organization at the All-Star Futures Game. He remained in the Texas League for much of last season before earning a July 21 promotion to Triple-A Oklahoma City, where he hit .316 in nine games. However, Ruiz ended up on the injured list at the beginning of August and missed the final 3 1/2 weeks of the season.

A two-time MiLB.com Organization All-Star and three-time midseason All-Star, Ruiz has a .299/.351/.420 slash line with 29 homers in 387 Minor League games. He's shown more power from the left side, hitting 27 of his 29 roundtrippers as a lefty.

Still, the Dodgers have been impressed with the switch-hitter’s advanced approach at a young age.

"His bat-to-ball skills are off the charts," Oklahoma City manager Tavis Barbary told MiLB.com last July. "He doesn't swing and miss. It can be tough for a lot of young players, especially catchers. The game can get really quick but for Keibert, his heartbeat is the same all the time. ... I can't say enough about his growth and maturity as a player from when I first saw him."

Defensively, Ruiz is a little more of a work-in-progress, throwing out 25 percent of basestealers across his first five seasons. He possesses solid receiving skills and has compiled a .992 fielding percentage.

The 6-foot, 225-pound backstop played in seven games during Spring Training, going 1-for-11 before the shutdown. He was added to the team's roster pool in July and will be replacing Smith, with whom Ruiz shared playing time in Tulsa in 2018.

Andrew Battifarano is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter, @AndrewAtBatt.