Darin Ruf proved last season that he was better than a Double-A player. The questions that the Philadelphia Phillies had at that time involved whether he could become a major league hitter and find a position on their team. As of late in the 2013 season, both of those queries may have been answered.
When someone hits more than fifty baseballs out of various stadiums, across three different professional levels in one year, everyone is going to take notice. But, the young man who was dubbed 'Babe Ruf' by his Reading Phillies' teammates last season knew that his one year of wonder wasn't enough.
Ruf's fielding efforts this spring, combined with Domonic Brown's emergence, resulted in a Triple-A assignment to start the season. He used that mild setback to his advantage.
The mid-season call-up he received and subsequent position switch to right field, which came on the heels of last season's switch from first base to left field, have both been reaffirming.
Gauging athletic talent is easier than projecting heart. Ruf clearly is a strong man who carries a quick bat. While he needs to learn how to handle an outside pitch and develop an overall plate approach regarding off-speed 'stuff', his willingness to embrace any positional role that the Phillies throw at him underscores his potential.
Why combine a throwback reference to some ancient mound men with a modern famous minor league moniker? Because the overwhelming majority of players on every team that ever played in either location never made it to the big leagues. So, all that endures is the name of their team, or the town that they lived in for awhile.
Ruf hasn't beaten the odds, or gotten lucky, he's created his own exception. As long as this affable 27-year-old continues to make adjustments he will remain in the major leagues.
Sometimes it's easy to dismiss how incredible every professional baseball player's career really is. The manner in which many of these human beings approach their public positions helps to create that natural perception.