The Rays continued to dip into the Cuban National talent pool today with the reported signing of Jose Julio Ruiz. We spoke about Ruiz earlier this season, but the signing of Leslie Anderson, another Cuban national position player, seemed to end that talk. Yet, here we are and both players are members of the Rays.
When the Anderson signing went down, there was speculation that he could replace Carlos Pena at first base. However, with Anderson's ability to play the outfield and Ruiz's thick frame (6-4, 230 lbs reportedly), it looks like Ruiz may be the heir apparent at first base. He is listed at age 25, and is thought to be Major League ready by some. Because of his bulk, power, and plate discipline, there have been comparisons to David Ortiz.
Details are sketchy, but this contract seems pretty unique. The Rays will pay Ruiz $20,000 a month this year; in addition to holding a team option that could pay him $4 million over four years. That could be quite a deal when you consider he was thought of as a $10 million dollar player at one point. Back in March, it was reported the Rays had offered him nearly $2 million.
Some scouts liked his bat over Anderson, and it is believed his power potential is much greater. There are some concerns about attitude, but we've heard that before. Instead of worrying about which one of Ruiz and Anderson- if not both - will make it in the big leagues, Tampa Bay just went out and grabbed both. In the immediate future, once Ruiz is cleared to play, expect him to start out in the low minor leagues and work his way through the system.
This morning we asked if the Rays should re-sign Carlos Pena. With Anderson and Ruiz in the mix, its looking almost unnecessary.