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South Side Sox Top Prospect No. 34: José Ruiz

This backstop still mastering his trade on the mound has seen mixed results so far in 2019

Chicago White Sox v Baltimore Orioles
Big challenge: With Ruiz’s struggles this season, it’s smart to remember he’s still relatively new to pitching.
Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

José Ruiz
190 pounds
Throws: Right
Age: 24
SSS rank among all right-handed relief pitchers in the system: 5

Ruiz, a Venezuela native, was the 16th-ranked international prospect (two spots ahead of Miguel Andujar) as a catcher in 2011, when the San Diego Padres signed him for $1 million. Unfortunately for Ruiz, his bat didn’t advance as far as his glove and arm (he threw out 36.7% of attempted base stealers throughout his minor league career), hitting just .203 in 950 at-bats.

In the middle of the 2016 season, the Padres converted him to a pitcher. For three teams in 2016 covering 12 13 innings (11 games), Ruiz allowed just three hits (.081 OBA) and five walks (10.2%) while striking out 14 (28.6%).

In 2017 for San Diego’s Single-A+ team in Lake Elsinore, Ruiz unsurprisingly struggled in his first full season as a pitcher, with a 5.98 ERA and 1.65 WHIP over 49 23 innings as he surrendered 57 hits (.291 OBA) and 25 walks (8.5%) while fanning 45 (15.3%). Despite his struggles, Ruiz actually pitched a game in the majors for the Padres, with a walk and strikeout in his one inning of work.

The White Sox were quick to pounce when the Padres placed him on waivers in December 2017, in an unsuccessful attempt to clear space on their 40-man roster. In 2018, in just his second full season as a pitcher, Ruiz pitched in a combined 43 games totaling 58 23 innings for Winston-Salem and Birmingham. In those innings, he compiled a 3.07 ERA and 1.07 WHIP by allowing just 39 hits (.188 OBA) and 24 walks (10.1%) while striking out 77 (32.5%).

Ruiz finished the year with the White Sox and made it into in six games totaling 4 13 innings — in that small sample size, he allowed five hits, three walks and six strikeouts. He features a 94-97 mph fastball that has reached 99. The fastball generates a downward plane with a high 34 delivery. His second pitch is a mid-80s slider that has more power than bite, but keeps hitters from sitting on his heater, while his third pitch is a changeup that has kept lefties off balance (lefties hit just .162 against him in the minors in 2018).

Ruiz actually has a nice repertoire for someone so new to pitching. He’s split time so far this season between Charlotte and Chicago, pitching just two innings at Triple-A but struggling on the South Side (5.40 ERA in 11 games/10 innings, with a 2.300 WHIP).

Take a look!

Footage courtesy of our pals at 2080 Baseball.

2019 South Side Sox Top 100 Prospects

34. José Ruiz, RHRP
35. Lency Delgado, SS
36. Zach Thompson, RHRP
37. Camilo Quinteiro, 2B
38. A.J. Puckett, RHSP
39. Amado Nuñez, 2B
40. Jordan Guerrero, LHSP
41. Tyler Frost, RF
42. Danny Mendick, SS
43. Yeyson Yrizarri, SS
44. Kade McClure, RHSP
45. Luis Mieses, CF
46. Ti’quan Forbes, 3B
47. Thyago Vieira, RHRP
48. Corey Zangari, 1B
49. Yermin Mercedes, C
50. Anderson Comas, RF
51. Gunnar Troutwine, C
52. Codi Heuer, RHSP
53. Andrew Perez, LHRP
54. Josue Guerrero, LF
55. Jacob Lindgren, LHRP
56. Ryan Cordell, CF
57. Joel Booker, LF
58. Bennett Sousa, LHRP
59. Blake Battenfield, RHSP
60. Caberea Weaver, CF
61. Matt Foster, RHRP
62. Tate Blackman, 2B
63. Hunter Schryver, LHRP
64. Romy González, CF
65. Carlos Perez, C
66. Trey Michalczewski, 3B
67. Taylor Varnell, LHSP
68. John Parke, LHSP
69. Mike Morrison, RHRP
70. Zach Remillard, 3B
71. Luis Martinez, RHSP
72. Zach Lewis, RHSP
73. José Nin, RHRP
74. Colton Turner, LHSP
75. Jhoandro Alfonso, C
76. Ramon Beltre, 2B
77. Charlie Tilson, CF
78. Hunter Kiel, RHRP
79. Jason Bilous, RHSP
80. Nick Johnson, RHRP
81. Danny Dopico, RHRP
82. Harvin Mendoza, 1B
83. Logan Sowers, RF
84. Maiker Feliz, 3B
85. Brayan Herrera, RHSP
86. Craig Dedelow, LF
87. Wilber Pérez, RHSP
88. Kyle Kubat, LHRP
89. Johan Dominguez, RHRP
90. Mitch Roman, 2B
91. Ty Greene, C
92. Tanner Banks, LHSP
93. Jake Elliott, RHRP
94. Kevin Escorcia, LHRP
95. Luis Rodriguez, RHSP
96. Ian Dawkins, LF
97. Victor Diaz, RHRP
98. Travis Moniot, LF
99. Will Kincanon, RHRP
100. Brian Clark, LHRP

More information on South Side Top Prospects.