As the San Francisco Giants continue to prepare for spring training, they signed right-handed hitting slugger Darin Ruf after he spent the last three years in the Korean Baseball Organization.
In yet another move in preparation for the upcoming season, the San Francisco Giants have signed former Philadelphia Phillies first baseman/outfielder Darin Ruf to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training.
The 33-year-old was in the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) the previous three seasons where he hit .313/.404/.564 with 86 home runs and 350 RBI across 1,756 total plate appearances.
Ruf’s OPS over the three years in the KBO sat at .968. In comparison to last year’s MLB leaders, he would have ranked ninth in the league behind George Springer (.974) and ahead of Nolan Arenado (.962).
His numbers certainly stand out, but there is a difference in talent level between the KBO and Major League Baseball. According to Mike Moffitt of SFGate.com, the Korean league’s talent level is not quite at that of MLB.
"The KBO’s competition level is supposedly similar to Triple A’s, but not quite as good as Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball organization."
Still, getting that international experience may have helped Ruf develop his game further after failing to produce in his most recent major league stints. After a solid start in his first two MLB seasons, Ruf slashed just .230/.291/.391 with 126 strikeouts in 503 plate appearances in his final three seasons before going abroad.
Though the move may seem like a risk by the Giants with Ruf now three years removed from his last MLB experience, he could find his way into the lineup.
As a right-handed power hitter who has played both first base and the outfield corner positions in his career, he can serve as a complementary piece to Alex Dickerson in a platoon, and as another option behind Brandon Belt.
At the very least, Ruf’s presence at spring training adds competition in the Giants’ young outfield and forces players on the bubble like Steven Duggar, Austin Slater, Tyler Austin, Joey Rickard, and Jaylin Davis to earn their spots on the Opening Day roster.
It’s a nice low-risk move by the Giants front office that could provide a solid return.