NEW YORK -- They just can't get first baseman Darin Ruf out no matter how hard they try. Ruf, a 20th-round draftee, has had immediate success with the Phillies in his first two shots at big league play.
Ruf batted .333 in a 12-game sample last season, and he's hitting .333 in his first 10 games this season. Even more impressive, he has reached base safely in 19 of his 22 games in the Major Leagues, and he has five home runs in his first 66 at-bats.
"It's been a great experience," said Ruf of being in the big leagues. "It's what every baseball player dreams of, and the fact that I've been able to help out a little bit has been nice. This next month and a half will mean a lot to the team, and hopefully, I can help us get to where we want to be."
Ruf, filling in for the injured Ryan Howard, first burst onto the scene in 2012, when he batted .317 with 38 home runs and 104 RBIs for Double-A Reading. Ruf was named the Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player in the Double-A Eastern League en route to making his big league debut.
Fast-forward a season, and Ruf faced some adversity. The right-handed hitter batted just .266 with seven home runs in 83 games for Triple-A Lehigh Valley prior to his promotion, and although he credits the pitchers for getting him out, he also said that he wasn't really at the top of his game.
"I think I got myself out more times than not, trying to be a little too aggressive in certain situations," he said of his time in Triple-A. "I was just not letting the game come to me, for the most part."
Ruf can thank his big league promotion for settling him down. Now, instead of putting pressure on himself to produce, he is relaxed, and fixated on being a good teammate.
"It's just a much faster game. Players are the best at what they do, every single one of them," said Ruf of life in the Majors. "You have to stay mentally locked in for every single pitch. You know, whether you're on defense or in the box or sitting on the bench waiting to hit, you need to stay focused."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.