The Oakland Athletics made an announcement on Friday afternoon. The team announced that they had signed international free agent Norge Ruiz to a Minor League deal worth $2 million.
That might seem like quite a bit of money to put into a Minor League deal but in Ruiz’s case it may not be at all.
The right-hander, from Camaguey, Cuba, is just 22-years-old but is considered by many to be very close to being ready for the majors and many believe he will begin his big league career in 2017.
Ruiz’s arsenal begins with a heavy fastball that can reach up to 94 mph, although he usually works in the 90-92 MPH range. He also throws a splitter, a cutter, a slider and a changeup.
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All of Ruiz’s pitches are seen as at least average by scouts, with his fastball and slider considered to be plus-pitches.
He is said to have plus-plus control as well with scouts not only marveling at his ability to place the ball right where he wants, but also his composure and overall maturity on the mound for someone still so young.
Part of his prowess is his ability to throw each of these pitches at different arm angles which can greatly confuse the batter as to where the ball will cross the plate.
Ruiz can also change speeds easily keeping the batter in the batter’s box even more off balance.
Although Ruiz is just six feet tall and 185 pounds, really on the rather small side for a starting pitcher. His ability to use different arm angles and speeds added to his control make him imposing and nearly unhittable.
He’s played three seasons in the Cuban Serie Nacional. He debuted at age 18 and went 24-17 with a 2.55 ERA in 60 appearances, 55 of which were games in which he started.
The A’s may have found a future starter for 2017 in Ruiz and all for the low price of $2 million.