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The Cuban Big Papi

Jose Julio “Ruiz is a David Ortiz-looking dude,”  said ESPN’s Jorge Arangure Jr.

Cuban defector Jose Julio Ruiz

Cuban defector Jose Julio Ruiz

Ruiz showed up in Miami in June, 2009 after defecting from Cuba.  Our friends over at Cuban Ball Players believe him to be the third best prospect among the recently exiled players from Cuba.

Ruiz, 25, is 6′ 3″,230 pounds and is a left-handed hitting first baseman.  In 52 games for the Cuban League Wasps last season, Ruiz hit .305 with 21 doubles and 11 homeruns, while knocking in 69.  His RBI total was good for tenth in the league, despite only playing in 52 of the 90 game Cuban season.  More impressive, however, is his speed for a firstbaseman; Ruiz led the league in stolen bases with 32.

He’s been working out for teams in the Dominican Republic.  Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos went to visit him and there appears to be mutual interest with the Red Sox as well.  Boston is said to be considering Ruiz as an inexpensive backup to Ortiz should the Sox choose to not take the 2011 option on Big Papi.

Other teams in the mix appear to be San Francisco, Tampa, and Texas.  The Nationals have reported that they are not pursuing Ruiz.

Fantasy Baseball Analysis – Jose Julio Ruiz

The good news is that you don’t have to decide on Ruiz until your 2010 fantasy baseball draft day, because Ruiz’s immediate worth is dependent greatly on where he signs.  If it is Toronto, he may get action sooner by displacing Lyle Overbay and another Ruiz (Randy) who hit 10  homers in just 115 at bats last year.

If he signs with Boston, he’ll likely spend most of the year in the minors while the Red Sox decide on whether he’s ready to replace Ortiz in 2011.

One thing is for sure, however, Ruiz needs to learn how to hit lefties.  In the Cuban league, he managed just a .214 batting average against southpaws.  That means he’s likely going to take a seat when facing left-handers in the MLB.

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