Two for two in Wednesday night’s game brought Darin Ruf’s batting average to .320, just two points shy of the Eastern League batting lead. He is trying to catch a Pirate farmhand who has not been in the league for three weeks and is now playing at AAA but has qualified for the Eastern League batting championship . Ruf has already run away with the home run championship with 37 and is three up in the RBI race with 98 with five games to go in the season which ends on Labor Day Monday. If Ruf can win the Eastern League Triple Crown, he would be just the sixth player to do it in the 90 year history of the League. The last player to win it was Luis Montanez in 2008.
Reading in its long and storied baseball history has never had a triple crown winner. In major league baseball history only 13 players have ever won the Triple Crown with Rogers Hornsby in 1922 and 1925 and Ted Williams in 1942 and 1947 winning it twice. The most recent MLB winner was Carl Yastrzemski way back in 1967.
What Darin Ruf is doing this season at Reading is so rare in the annals of baseball history that we need to pause to consider again what he has done. Previously we wrote about his 19 home runs in the month of August so far which is topped in a month only by the 20 homers hit by Sammy Sosa in June of 1998 at the major league level. Still two games remains in August for Ruf to equal that record. Now he has a chance to win the triple crown which has not been done since 1967 at the major league level.
In recognition of Ruf’s accomplishments he has been selected as the Phillies Offensive Minor league Player of the Year and well deserved. Joining Ruf in the awards category is Tyler Cloyd who was picked by the Phillies as their Paul Owens Minor League Pitcher of the Year. Cloyd was also chosen as the International League’s Most Valuable Pitcher. He went 15-1 between Reading and Lehigh Valley this year and made his major league debut Wednesday night in a losing effort against the Mets, 3-2. He battled a former Mets No. 1 draft pick almost even terms for six innings. However Cloyd did earn my favorite pitching stat a “quality start” for going six innings and giving up only three runs. He retired 11 of the last 12 batters he faced but again the Phillies had little offense and could not score with runner in scoring position. In any event a tip of the hat to Tyler Cloyd for a great start to his major league career even in taking a loss.
Baseball Betsy and I have been following Tyler Cloyd since last season when he was with Reading. We wondered why he did not get a chance to pitch in any major league spring training games this spring when we attended games in Clearwater. We counted 40 Phillies pitchers who appeared in those major league spring training games but not one was named Tyler Cloyd. He pitched well for Reading last season when we were there but he spent his time over in the minor league camp at the Carpenter Complex this spring . Apparently even the Phillies Front Office and coaching staff have been surprised by Cloyd’s pitching this season. On the telecast of the game against the Mets they said even pitching coach Rich Dubee never saw him pitch in person until his major league debut . After the game Cloyd said he had never been to Citizen Bank Park before. Wow! Who else might be in the Phillies system who can help the major league team that we might not know to much about?
It’s good to see that the Phillies Front Office is finally taking notice of late developing players such as 26 year old Darin Ruf and 25 year old Tyler Cloyd who have come to the forefront and are proving they belong in the plans of the Phillies organization. Now Ruf should be the next one to get the call to the Show before the major league season ends in recognition of his once in a lifetime storybook season he is having for the Reading Phillies. We can only hope that General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. and the Phillies Front Office agree.