Zero percent of all experts, non-experts and everyone in between predicted that Philadelphia Phillies' prospect Darin Ruf would ever break Ryan Howard's single-season home run record. But, that is exactly what this sure-shot Eastern League Most Valuable Player might do this week.
Ruf's 36 home runs for the Double-A Reading Phillies (as of August 27) leaves him one shy of tying Ryan Howard's record (37 home runs in 2004). He has seven games left in the regular season to make history. But, will this 26-year-old's incredible year create a major league future?
I love the nickname that Ruf's teammates have given him. It has also become perfectly fine to use the term 'prospect' when referring to this Creighton University product.
There are 'Pessimistic Pete' personality types who have recently begun signing a different sour tune. After they realized that this still-young man could actually tie, or break, Howard's record they stopped saying that he would never reach that mark. Now, those who don't believe that anyone can achieve (or sustain) anything are shouting that Ruf won't be able to parlay his 2012 seasonal efforts into a major league career.
The Reading Bambino's future
To adamantly state what Ruf won't do in the future reveals far more about the emotional logic of the predictor, than it does about the potential of the player. Maybe Ruf will progress and maybe he won't.
Those who are overly optimistic already have their spot picked out on the lawn for the day he's inducted into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. Pessimists have predicted his release from the game this Friday and plan to upload a picture of him selling discount shoes at his new job on Sunday.
Balanced minds hope that Ruf will set the Reading Phillies' power record. These individuals also want to see the man who has hit one home run every 12.86 times at bat this season receive a September call-up. Hopefully, he will also be able to hit Triple-A pitching next spring.
Positive lesson learned
Clearly Ruf was moved from first base to left field within the past month to give the Phillies options. Because of his collegiate experience and current age, it's possible that this 2009 twentieth round draft pick could become part of the team's future outfield mix.
An American League team might believe that he is holding a future major league bat and take him as part of a deal. Not considered a strong fielder, the designated hitter role is one that this right-handed slugger obviously might play.
Everything that has happened in 2012 could be the explosive precursor to a major league career, or simply an upbeat story in a down Phillies' year.
Supportive family members, quality friends, and other good people who we meet along the way in life help to set positive examples for us to follow. One of the lessons we learn through their influence is how to root for others to succeed. With whatever happens, all of the people who I know are wishing Ruf well.
Sean O'Brien's professional writing career began in 1990, when he first began working in the Philadelphia Phillies farm system. He was a freelance sports writer for five years and is currently a Featured Contributor for Yahoo! Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @SeanyOB and read his daily Sports Blog: Insight.
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