Baseball America’s Ben Badler recently identified Red Sox pitching prospect Cesar Ruiz as a potential breakout candidate for 2022 among pitchers who spent the 2021 season in the Dominican Summer League and “are under the radar now but could make bigger names for themselves next year.”
Ruiz, 18, originally signed with Boston for $200,000 out of Venezuela in July 2019. After the 2020 minor-league season was wiped out because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the young right-hander got his first taste of pro ball this summer.
In eight starts for the Red Sox Red DSL affiliate, Ruiz posted a 4.50 ERA and 4.14 FIP to go along with 17 strikeouts to 11 walks over 20 total innings of work. He held opposing hitters to a .197 batting average against, but did so while putting up an 18.9% strikeout rate and 12.2% walk rate.
While those numbers may not be all that eye-popping, Badler notes that despite his lower profile, Ruiz — who is listed at 6-foot-3 and 170 pounds — is still filling out and has even more room to grow in 2022.
“Signed in 2019 touching 88 mph, Ruiz touched 90 mph later that year after signing, then this year was sitting 89-93 mph and touched 95 mph as an 18-year-old,” Badler wrote on Monday. “Ruiz has good arm action, a relatively smooth delivery and has more strength projection left in his 6-foot-3 frame, so there’s a chance he could still add more velocity. He has added more power to his breaking ball since signing, showing feel to spin a pitch with average or better upside.”
Back in September, SoxProspects.com’s director of scouting Ian Cundall echoed the same sort of sentiment, writing that Ruiz “showed some of the best present stuff of any arm on the DSL Red Sox while still possessing plenty of projection.
“His delivery is on the stiff side, but his fastball already gets up to 93 mph and sits 89-92 mph,” added Cundall. “He also throws a slider at 81-83 mph and changeup at 80-83 mph.”
Since he was used in relatively short bursts in the Dominican this year, Ruiz is projected by SoxProspects.com to begin the 2022 minor-league campaign in the bullpen for the rookie-level Florida Complex League Red Sox.
The Red Sox, as noted by Badler, have had recent success when it comes to scouting and signing pitchers from Venezuela, with right-handers Jedixson Paez, Alvaro Mejias, Luis Perales, and Wilkelman Gonzalez standing out among the rest.
Perhaps Ruiz will join this promising group of Venezuelan-born hurlers and establish himself even more beginning in the spring.
(Picture of Cesar Ruiz via his Instagram)