The Baltimore Orioles have announced that the St. Louis Cardinals have claimed right-handed pitcher Ryan Meisinger off waivers. In addition, the O’s have claimed third baseman Rio Ruiz off waivers from the Atlanta Braves.
Meisinger was an 11th round selection by the Orioles during the 2015 MLB Draft. He worked his way through each affiliate as a successful reliever in the minors. Prior to making his major-league debut in 2018, he recorded a 2.28 ERA with 36 strikeouts in 27 2/3 innings at Triple-A Norfolk. In 21 innings with the Orioles in 2018, the 24-year-old right-hander pitched to a 6.43 ERA.
Ruiz, 24, is a left-handed hitter who was originally drafted in the fourth round of the 2012 MLB Draft by the Houston Astros. Current Orioles executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias was with the Astros as the director of scouting during this draft, so there’s a connection.
Ruiz performed well in the 283 games he played in Houston’s minors, although he never made it above High-A over the two and a half seasons. In 2015, the Astros traded Ruiz as part of the package to Atlanta to acquire Evan Gattis. MLB Pipeline ranked Ruiz 12th on the Braves top-prospect list in 2015, and he was also labeled the third-best position player in Atlanta’s minors, behind just Dansby Swanson and Ozzie Albies. Ruiz’s scouting report from MLB Pipeline read as follows:
“Ruiz was a well-regarded prospect coming out of high school in 2012 and he began his career sharing the left side of the infield in the Astros organization with Carlos Correa, the first overall pick in that year’s Draft. That duo was broken up in January when the Astros included Ruiz in the package they sent to the Braves in the Evan Gattis trade.
After struggling at the outset of his professional career, Ruiz made a mechanical adjustment to his swing that has led to much better production. He has demonstrated good on-base skills and does a good job of using the whole field to hit. His power largely translated to doubles to doubles in the low levels of the Minor Leagues, but as he physically matures he should start driving more balls over the fence.
Though Ruiz still has room for improvement defensively, he has the look of a future everyday third baseman in the Major Leagues.”
After a disappointing 2015 campaign, his first year in the Braves system, he dropped in ranking to 17th on MLB Pipeline’s Braves prospect list in 2016. He rebounded, however, slashing .271/.355/.400 with 10 homers in Triple-A Gwinnett in 2016. He was rewarded with a five-game cup of coffee in the majors.
In 2017, the following year, Ruiz slashed just .193/.283/.307 in 53 games with the Braves, and also batted .247/.322/.446 in 103 games with Gwinnett. This past season, he was mostly with Gwinnett again, where he posted a .269/.322/.390 line over 130 games, while also getting just 15 plate appearances with Atlanta.
My guess is Elias has hope that he can help turn Ruiz back into the player he thought he’d be getting when he drafted him. If he can, the Orioles may view him as competition for Renato Nunez during spring training for the everyday third base job. Otherwise, this is an infielder depth pick up with some familiarity to Elias.