In his last seven games, the Washington Nationals’ 23-year-old catcher Keibert Ruiz has hits in six, four three-hit games, and five multi-hit games, going 15 for 30 (.500/.516/.667) in the last 10 days, with two doubles and a home run. Ruiz, acquired from the Dodgers in the four-for-two deadline deal that sent Max Scherzer and Trea Turner to LA, has provided a glimpse of what made him the “main cog” in the trade according to Nats’ GM Mike Rizzo.
The extra base hits Ruiz has collected in this recent stretch are something that his manager, Davey Martinez said he thought would come if the switching-hitting catcher kept going the way he was in terms of his approach even when he struggled at the plate after coming up a few weeks back.
Last night in Cincinnati, Ruiz went 3 for 5, homering for the first time with the Nationals and the second time this season in the majors.
“I think the power is going to come,’ Martinez explained. “He’s staying behind the ball a lot better, he’s having a lot more consistent at-bats, better at-bats, where he’s seeing the ball a lot better, getting back early, and really exploding with his hands, and he’s doing well. So, to see him hit that ball the way he did like that, it was short, compact, and it was a good swing.
“The power is going to come, I love the fact that he’s staying — continuing to stay in the middle of the field, which is great.”
“Yeah, yeah. I’m not trying to hit a homer,” Ruiz said of his approach in that second inning at-bat against Reds’ starter Sonny Gray and in general.
“I feel like if I stay in my approach there, the homer is going to come.”
Ruiz did hit 24 doubles and 21 homers in 72 games at Triple-A between the Dodgers and Nationals’ top affiliates this season, so the hope is the power will translate to the majors.
Getting his first with his new team, Ruiz said, “It feels good, it feels good to hit the first one, and get that one out of the way. But I got to keep working, keep having my approach at the plate, keep looking for my pitch, and hopefully I can have some more coming.”
Ruiz came up after posting a .310/.377/.616 line in the minors this season, and he struggled at first, but his talent at and behind the plate is starting to show through.
“I’ve been feeling better, comfortable here, so I feel like if I keep playing I’m going to be more comfortable,” the catcher said.
Ruiz is back in the lineup tonight for the third of four with the Reds in Great American Ball Park.