6’2’’ 205 lbs DOB: 04/12/1982
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
2008: Durham/Tampa Bay
Acquired: 2006 Trade from Dodgers
Aquired from the Dodgers in the 2006 deal that also netted Dioner Navarro, Justin Ruggiano has been among the Rays most productive minor league hitters since his acquisition. Even though he will be 27 for most of 2009, the quality of Ruggiano’s bat is tough to ignore despite having not established himself as a major leaguer yet.
Ruggiano again found himself in AAA Durham for most of 2008 where he proved that his 2007 season was no fluke. In 2007 his 20 homers and 26 steals made him the league’s only 20/20 player as he posted a vital line of .309/.386/.502. This earned him a September callup where he saw limited action, just 14 at bats. Ruggiano’s 2008 season in Durham produced similar results with 11 HR and 20 steals to go along with a .315/.374/.537 vital. During several callups with the Rays, Ruggiano again saw limited action, posting a .197/.247/.329 line in 76 at bats. Strikeouts have been Ruggiano’s primary weakness during his time in AAA as he has struck out in over 27% of his plate appearances.
From a tools perspective Ruggiano is average to slightly above average in all aspects. He has a good arm, above average speed, and can play all three outfield spots although he is best suited for a corner. As his minor league numbers suggest, he should be able to at least hold his own as a major league reserve at the plate.
One also has to wonder if he has fallen out of favor with Rays management as he has never had much of a chance to prove himself in the majors despite extended success in AAA. Even though Ruggiano will probably never make it as a regular with the Rays, there is no reason to think that he can not be a very capable fourth outfielder next year or perhaps part of a RF platoon with Matt Joyce.