With the 1st pick in the 4th Round (129th overall) the Astros select 6'1" 180lb Lefty-hitting Righty-throwing 3B Rio Ruiz, out of Bishop Amat HS (CA).
Ruiz was poised to be a Top 20 pick, but had to have a procedure in March to break up a blood clot near his collarbone by his right shoulder. (He's "supposed to be fine.") That, and his baseball skills, give him comparisons to Eric Chavez.
Ruiz has the tools to be an everyday Major League third baseman. He has a terrific left-handed swing, a short stroke with good bat speed. He makes consistent hard contact and there's more than enough loft and leverage for him to have good power at the next level. He's a solid, instinctive defender at third, with good lateral movement and a strong arm. Ruiz doesn't run well, but given his other skills, that doesn't matter so much. He doesn't need to run if he's going to develop into a run-producing third baseman as a professional.
Ruiz has been committed to USC since he was 14 years old, and in the Southern Section Division 4 championship game, Ruiz hit a homerun. Why is that significant? Because it was at Dodger Stadium. USC coach Frank Cruz:
"Rio's lifelong dream was to become a Trojan, so we are very happy to see that dream come true. He and his family are very committed to the college process and earning a degree at USC."
Whether he'll be tempted to honor his commitment to USC remains to be seen, but Ruiz told ESPNHS:
"If this is the worst thing that happens to me, I'm happy with that,. I'm going to work my way back until I'm 100 percent, and hopefully make my dream come true in the big leagues."
He is a physical third baseman with big hands and present strength. He has a knack for making good contact and figures to develop good power with his frame. He also has profile arm strength for third base, sitting 90-93 mph when he gets on the mound.
Ruiz is Keith Law's #51-ranked player (he was #34 on Baseball America's preseason ranking for the 2012 draft), and is represented by Scott Boras - the 2nd Boras client the Astros have picked so far.
Interesting note from Inside SoCal:
Another thing that didn't help Ruiz's cause on Monday was he and his father Rudy told interested teams his signing threshold was top-10 money. The figure was not disclosed, but Rudy Ruiz felt it was high enough to prevent teams from selecting his son...When and where Ruiz is selected today likely will determine what Ruiz decides as far as USC or an early run at a pro career.
Slot recommendation for the 129th overall pick is $360,200.
Zachary Levine talked to Ruiz about what it would take to get him to sign:
"I think me and my family have come up with some stuff that will buy us out of an education at SC, and ultimately it’s what they have to offer. Me and my advisors and my family will talk about it and see if it is ultimately the best decision for me to sign.”