"Ruf is somebody that pops out at you," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said Tuesday at Citizens Bank Park. "He's had an extraordinary year. Ruf is trying to hit his way to the big leagues. That's the way that it used to be like. You had to do something to get to the big leagues. Evidently, Ruf is an old throwback."
Ruf, the Phillies' No. 12 overall prospect, is hitting .317 with 31 doubles, one triple, 36 home runs and 96 RBIs in 132 games in Reading. He has hit 18 home runs this month.
That is the type of hitter Manuel loves: a guy that can hit the long ball.
But Ruf does not necessarily have a position to play in the big leagues. Ryan Howard has him blocked at first base, and Ruf has seen very limited action in the outfield. The Phillies plan to play Ruf in the outfield in winter ball, which could help him find a home in the big leagues.
Manuel didn't sound too concerned about Ruf's defense.
"If a guy can hit, his defense gets a little bit better. That's what I think," Manuel said. "I want to see him, whether it's at the end of the year or Spring Training. I'm looking forward to seeing him. I saw him on TV and it looked like he's got a good swing. Strong."
Manuel is walking the fine line right now between getting some of his young players looks, while trying to win. The Phillies would like to finish the season with a winning record, if possible.
So would Manuel take the risk of playing Ruf in left field, which could cost him defensively and maybe even a game?
"I think if you have a chance to win, it would be a risk," he said. "But at the same time, I've done that before. I'm not saying I won't do that. I've done that before. ... I would say his bat would serve us well if he can get some hits up here. That's what it's all about."