The Frederick Keys have been somewhat rough to watch this season. While they have the stalwart prospect Dylan Bundy, it’s been a rough go-around for practically everyone else, primarily the offense. That is, until Johnny Ruettiger was called up from Delmarva.
Most people know Ruettiger as the nephew of Rudy Ruettiger, the famous Notre Dame football walk-on. John Ruettiger might play a different sport, but the effort put forth seems to be the same. Ruettiger, 22, stands tall at 6’1” 195 lbs. and is the type of player whom portrays as “athletic” when watching him.
The 2011 8th round pick out of Arizona St. has shown his speed and contact prowess back to his college days. While minor league statistics should always be taken with a grain of salt, Ruettiger has a career .360 OBP in the minors.
Before his promotion from Delmarva to Frederick, he had a batting line of .305/.378/.362 and was 10/11 in SB. Since his promotion to Frederick, he has flashed the same promise that was evident in Delmarva.
Ruettiger will always be considered a contact guy. He simply does not have the physical power to become a high profile OF. That does not mean he cannot be a talented and valuable prospect. In fact, Ruettiger makes up a ton for this nonexistent skill.
He has an extremely promising approach at the plate. From the games I have watched this season, there has not been a time where he has tried to do “too much” at the plate. Ruettiger is very good going with the pitch, staying back and allowing the ball to connect with his bat. If the ball is outside, he’s going to take it opposite field. He pulls the ball a little less than one would think, which seems to be a common ground for a handful of speedy contact guys.
In Thursday’s game vs. Winston-Salem Dash, Ruettiger went 2-4 with 2 BB and SB. It was the quintessential game for him. His first AB, he grounded out to short after taking two low fastballs for strikes. Not the best plate appearance, but Jake Petricka made three good pitches. In his next AB, Ruettiger worked a BB. Petricka ended up with seven BB on the day, so it was a little tough giving full credit to Ruettiger on that one.
However, he displayed a good approach, laying off the balls just outside the strike zone, and did not flinch on the curve in the dirt on a 2-2 count. In his third AB, he cracked a belt-high fastball through the 3B/SS hole. It was a magnificent display of going with the pitch, not doing too much, and setting up a fine inning for the Keys.
He ended up scoring after a double by Trent Mummey and single from Tyler Kelly. Over the course of the game, his patience impressed me the most. He shows an advanced knowledge of the strike-zone, something that most hope a college player achieves.
Ruettiger has an above-average presence in the OF too. He is a talented tracker, and makes above-average reads. His arm is average at best. Spring training was probably the first time I took extreme notice to his impressive play in CF. He’s played LF in Frederick with Trent Mummey manning CF, and there are some that believe he may end up in LF down the road.
It’s been a nice season for Ruettiger in 2012. There is still work and physical maturity to be had, but he’s progressed nicely. He was largely not on any of the top prospect lists for the Orioles this off-season, but maybe that will change for next season. He’s surely not disappointed.