Three Reasons Why Pete Ruiz is Looking Like a Prospect Again
Trust. Confidence. Conviction.
For a pitcher, those three things are at the centerpiece of any successful pitch, inning, or outing. If you believe in your stuff, and more importantly, yourself, suddenly recording outs becomes much more simple.
For Pete Ruiz, these three ideals have been unwavering aspects of his success so far in 2012. After an up and down season as a starter (6-5, 5.31) with Salem a year ago, his move to the bullpen has yielded phenomenal results (4-1, 1.62) through eight appearances. Most recently, he dealt three perfect innings to earn the victory in Salem’s 5-3, 14-inning extravaganza in Myrtle Beach on Friday night.
The transition to the pen has been as good as he could have hoped for, and he believes that the reliever role is where he belongs and where he can truly excel.
“It’s different,” said Ruiz. “It’s less think and more do. Mentally, you need to be ready to go every day, because who knows what’s gonna happen and if you’re gonna be called upon. I think the thought process is a lot simpler….The fact that I come to the park: I might pitch today, I might not pitch today, I prepare the same exact way every time, and I think that’s why my results are a little bit more consistent.”
It is always exciting when a major league rehabber arrives at a minor league venue, but their impact is often short-lived. They get in and get out, generally not staying long enough to truly leave an everlasting impression. But when Rich Hill spent a week with the Salem Sox in April, numerous players gained a great appreciation for Hill’s approach to all aspects of his job. No one was influenced more than Ruiz.
“I’ve kind of pieced together a lot of things that I’ve learned from a lot of different people,” he said. “Rich Hill being here was one of the biggest impacts on my career. Just the way he went about his business and the way he prepared impressed me so much. I took a notice to that and just started picking his brain, asking him how he did things, why he did things, what he was thinking when he did things. And that really helped my mindset a lot.”
One of the biggest messages that Hill gave Ruiz was this: “You’re not as far away as you think you are.”
A 10th round pick in 2008, the 24-year-old Ruiz took Hill’s advice to heart, realizing how quickly players can elevate from the Advanced-A level to the major leagues. As for the three reasons why Ruiz looks capable of rising, he has absolutely embraced another one of Hill’s ideologies.
“As long as I throw each pitch with trust, confidence, and conviction, no matter the result, I did all I can do,” says Ruiz, explaining Hill’s advice. “You hear that a lot, but to hear it from him and to see his success and hear it from a big leaguer like that, it really hit home with me. That was one of the biggest influences I’ve ever had in my career.”
In Spring Training, Ruiz became a YouTube phenom with his incredibly accurate impersonations of ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian. Click here to hear Pete talk about that experience of sharing his inner Kurkjian with the world, meeting the real guy in Fort Myers, and hearing from long lost friends and acquaintances who saw his impressions on YouTube.
At the end of the interview, Ruiz graces us with his latest Kurkjian analysis, giving folks the goods on minor league baseball’s strikeout leader, Matt Barnes.
Salem and Carolina meet in game three of the four-game tilt at Five County Stadium at 7:15 tonight. Hope you can join me on NewsTalk 960 AM and FM 107.3 WFIR or www.salemsox.com at 7:03 for an extended pregame conversation prior to first pitch.
As usual, you can find some game note hors d’oeuvres below.
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May 16, 2012 7:15 PM Salem Red Sox (20-15) vs Carolina Mudcats (20-17) Game #36
Five County Stadium Zebulon, NC Road Game #20
Probable Starters: RHP Ryan Pressly (2-1, 7.13) vs RHP Will Roberts (1-1, 4.50)
You Win Some, You Lose Some: For a couple hours on Tuesday night, the Salem Sox were on the cusp of first place, trailing the Winston-Salem Dash by just a half-game in the Southern Division. But the Sox dropped their nightcap while the Dash prevailed in their second game, widening the gap back to a game and a half, the same margin that existed at the beginning of the evening. Salem has only spent four days in first place thus far, none since April 18.
One Down, Three to Go: With 35 games in the books, the Salem Sox are exactly halfway through the first half and a quarter of the way through the 140 game regular season schedule. If the Sox were to sustain their current pace, it would make for a 40-30 half and an 80-60 regular season. Since the Red Sox affiliation began in 2009, the most games that the Sox have won in a half was 42, going 42-28 in the first half of 2010. Salem’s 73-65 overall record that year also was the most victories that Salem has collected in a season since 2009.
First-Inning Freak: While there are a multitude of impressive features to Jackie Bradley, Jr.’s 28-game reaching base streak, perhaps the most amazing is this: He has extended the streak in the first inning in 11 of his last 12 games. With a double and a triple to open the front and back end of yesterday’s twin-bill, respectively, Bradley has now gone 9-for-10 with two walks in his last 12 at-bats to begin a ballgame. In this span, he has four singles, two doubles, a triple, and two homers, and eight runs scored. Perhaps even remarkably, his .414 first inning batting average for the season pales in comparison to his .545 average (6-for-11) in second-inning opportunities! In the life of his 28-game on-base streak, Bradley has hit .423 (44-of-104) with an OBP of .519. He has 16 extra-base hits, 21 walks, 22 RBI, and 33 runs scored during the streak.
Streaks Snapped: Both Sean Coyle and Travis Shaw delivered extra base hits in the first inning of Tuesday’s opener before going hitless in the nightcap, halting their respective hitting streaks. Coyle’s team –best fifth home run increased his streak to eight games, while Shaw’s double that immediately followed the homer brought his to ten, the longest for any Salem player this year. Coyle went 0-for-3 in the second game, while Shaw finished 0-for-2 with a walk. Shaw owns 46 hits for the season, tied with teammate Jackie Bradley for the second most in the league behind Winston’s Brady Shoemaker.
Still On Top: With rainouts on Sunday and Monday pushing the rotation back a day, first-round phenom Matt Barnes is scheduled to retake the mound on Thursday evening against Carolina. Despite the fact that he has not pitched since last Friday, he still enters tonight’s action with more strikeouts than any other pitcher in American professional baseball. Barnes has punched out 62 while only walking five in 38.2 innings pitched over seven starts. At the major league level, the top five strikeout masters (Sabathia, Hernandez, Strasburg, Verlander, and Greinke) have all made eight starts and possess between 59 and 53 Ks. In the minors, Mobile’s Trevor Bauer is second to Barnes with 60 strikeouts, also coming in eight starts.