Not all rookies are created equal. There are noted prospects with an unmatched pedigree, but there are also journeyman minor leaguers who finally get their chance.
Last year’s Rookie of the Year race was a good example of that. While Bryce Harper, a former first overall pick, ended up winning the award, he got strong competition from Todd Frazier, another former top prospect who had to prove himself with multiple years in Triple-A before the Reds gave him a chance, and Wade Miley, a borderline pitching prospect who got his chance with the Diamondbacks and took advantage of it.
From a fantasy standpoint, all three were similar in value in 2012, and the same will occur again with the 2013 rookie class.
Ruf, a 26-year-old first baseman who is being converted into an outfielder in order to get his bat in the lineup, broke onto the baseball scene with a 38 home run outburst in Double-A last season. One of the hardest things to find in rookies, even the best rookies, is legitimate power, but Ruf has that.
The question is how much playing time Ruf will get.
The Phillies appear to be prepared to use Ruf in a platoon situation in left field. That may be the best way to get the most out of Ruf, and if you pay close enough attention to match-ups and change your lineup daily, Ruf could be a valuable asset on days when he’s facing a southpaw.
But for most leagues, Ruf will have value only if he is playing every day.
There’s a decent chance that Ruf hits his way into every day play this season. If that happens, it will be because of his power. Ruf may not be a .300 hitter, but if he’s a successful major leaguer, it’s because he’s hitting home runs and hitting them frequently.
If that becomes the case, he has a chance to be an even more productive fantasy rookie than even Profar or Myers.
Just be thankful your league doesn’t count defense.