Oakland A's prospect Esteury Ruiz is putting on a show in Triple-A Las Vegas

Esteury Ruiz is raking in Triple-A Las Vegas. When will we see him back in Oakland?
Cleveland Guardians v Oakland Athletics
Cleveland Guardians v Oakland Athletics / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages

Oakland Athletics' outfielder Esteury Ruiz is doing everything in his power to work his way back up to the big leagues.

Ruiz was sent down to Triple-A two weeks ago, back on April 1st. What could have been misconstrued as a poorly written April Fool's joke was actually a major reality check for the young outfielder.

Ruiz wasn't great at the plate in 2023, hitting .254/.309/.345. That was good for an 86 wRC+, making him 14% worse than league average.

Despite stealing 67 bases in his debut season, he wasn't a great defender and wasn't doing enough in addition to providing speed on the basepaths that GM David Forst decided to shift him back to Triple-A to work on his approach at the plate.

Whatever Ruiz is doing, it seems to be working. Through 48 plate appearances, Ruiz is up to .333/.438/.538 with 3 home runs and 7 steals. Maybe most importantly, he's showing more patience as a hitter.

His walk rate sits at 12.5% and his 16.7% strikeout rate is a slight improvement on that figure in Triple-A back in 2022, before he was traded to Oakland. His numbers aren't propped up by luck, either.

His .367 batting average on balls in play is actually a touch lower than his career mark in the minor leagues. He has enough speed to run a BABIP well over league average. His ground ball rate is down sharply compared to his numbers in 2023 and he's doing a much better job getting the ball into the air in this small sample in Las Vegas.

Most A's fans figured that Ruiz would have come back up when Brent Rooker was shifted to the IL with a rib injury. It didn't happen, as Forst decided to call up Max Schuemann who offers a bit more positional versatility than Ruiz does.

It's unclear how long Forst wants to keep Ruiz down in the minors but if he keeps hitting this well, Forst is going to have to make a decision at some point.

The A's have a number of fungible guys up in the big leagues right now and one would hope that they aren't blocking Ruiz's playing time. It's certainly beneficial to have Ruiz playing every day down in Las Vegas compared to getting partial playing time in Oakland. However, the only regular starter with an on base percentage over .300 is Abraham Toro.

According to Forst, Ruiz was sent down primarily due to his sub-par OBP skills. The A's currently have a league-worst .269 OBP. Ruiz was 30 points better than that last year and it's a fair argument to think that he'd make the team better if he were in the majors right now.

We'll see how things play out but if Ruiz keeps hitting, we should expect to see him back in Oakland sooner rather than later.