Darin "Babe" Ruf invaded Baseball Town in 2012 with a Fred Flinstone sized bat, clubbing home runs at a remarkable rate. His rise to Philadelphia stardom turned somewhat legendary by the time he finally got the call up in early September.
Ruf hit 20 homeruns in the month of August alone, 38 total, breaking a club record of 37 set by Ryan Howard in 2004. The same man who essentially blocks Ruf's ascension to the big leagues. The reason that the R-Phils, or the Ostrich's, started trying out Ruf in left field. Hey if Pat the Bat can play left field, why not Ruf!?!
“There's an old saying, ‘If you can hit, we'll find a place for you to play,'” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said when Ruf was promoted last September. “If you can hit and hit with power, it's more than likely we'll find a position where you can play.”
Enter Domonic Brown, once the prized jewel of the Phillies brass, was at one time un-tradeable. Even for the likes of Roy Halladay or Cliff Lee. Still a year younger than Babe Ruf, he has been thrown into the "too late" category for most Phils phans as Ruf 's Babe-like status grows in South Philly.
After being nicknamed the "Total Package" by slugger Ryan Howard in Spring Training of 2010, Domonic Brown was poised to be the next big thing in Phillies baseball. At the time Dom was ranked the 14th best prospect in the minor leagues by MLB.com.
In July of 2010, after an injury to Shane Victorino, Phillies phans got to see their first big league glimpse of the phuture star. Dom had been slugging his way through Reading to Lehigh Valley with a .327 batting average, 20 homeruns, and 68 rbis. Garnering enough attention for the Phils to see what the young kid had with the big boys.
Brown's time at the major league level has been peppered with glimpses of potential, injuries and disappointment. He has never been given the green light to go out and prove he is big league material. Always being labeled "not quite ready," platooning, untimely injuries, or staying up just long enough to get sent down. But at what age does potential become too late? (See John Mayberry Jr.)
The Phillies enter 2013 with some major holes and question marks in the outfield corners. With the trade for Ben Revere from Minnesota they most likely are set at center field for the foreseeable future. Revere in his own right is a question mark, unknown but promising. I did not believe that RAJ would go into the spring with so many questions in his outfield but what options are there? Scott Hairston? No thanks!
As we creep torwards February 12th it looks like a 4-man corner outfield platoon between Darin Ruf, Laynce Nix, Dom Brown and John Mayberry Jr.
With my hopes for a Ruf/Revere/Brown Opening Day lineup, the question arises. Who will have a better 2013, Darin Ruf or Dom Brown? The once can't miss star vs. the Babe Ruth of phuture Phils. In 33 major leauge AB's last year Ruf hit .333 with 3 hr's and 10 rbi's. And rumor has it the Babe has been lighting it up in the Venezuelan league.
I am by no means anti-Dom. I think he showed alot of promise at the end of 2012 and should be our regular in right field for 2013. I still think he has what it takes to be an everyday player. With that being said I am VERY PRO-RUF!!
At 26 he is a late bloomer, the power surge that we witnessed last summer has not cooled down as of yet. He is THE Phillie that I am most excited about heading into 2013. I believe by mid summer Ruf will be a household name around baseball. He is serviceable in left field and I think athletic enough to play the position without being a liability. At 6'3 220 he is big and strong, sees the ball quite well and has a quick and compact swing. Hey don't we desperately need a right-handed power bat?!?
So Rube, no more searching for a fill in guy at the corners. Another Laynce Nix who will only platoon and stunt two guys at 25 & 26 who I believe should man the corners for the Phightins in 2013 and beyond.
So you heard it hear first, Babe Ruf will earn the left field job in 2013 after he smashes his way through the Grapefruit League in sunny Florida. He will start on Opening Day in Atlanta and force opposing pitchers to start throwing to Ryan Howard. He will be the right handed power bat we have so desperately wanted.
30 hr's, 90 rbi's. Write it down!