Darin Ruf damaged the careers of many Double-A pitchers last summer as he was breaking Ryan Howard's Reading Phillies' record for home runs in one season. The 38 bombs that the Philadelphia Phillies' prospect launched over numerous fences in a variety of small towns silenced all but his most hardened skeptics. Heading into spring training, this 26-year-old man has a chance to become one of the new cornerstones in a revived Phillies' era.
Many competitive souls were eagerly awaiting the downfall of Charlie Manuel's squad after his brash bunch pushed their way into baseball's gated community. Those who see themselves (or in this case, their teams) as part of some privileged class don't take kindly to the underclass moving into their neighborhoods.
A stacked farm system, that was built by Ed Wade, allowed the masterful Pat Gillick to gain penthouse access. His Hall of Fame insight and connections enabled a thrilling October race that culminated in a deeply satisfying World Series' victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.
Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Cole Hamels, Carlos Ruiz, Ryan Howard and Kyle Kendrick are still around this season. But, this appears to be the final pennant chase that core will collectively pursue. If Ruf is able to tap into his power source again this season, he will instantly become the face of the new Phillies.
The excitement surrounding “Babe Ruf” goes beyond his quick hands. His specific story has spurned the idea that this Philadelphia baseball team isn't winding down, but instead is transitioning. The proof behind this hopeful theory could be known before the kids get out of school in June.