Down on the Farm: Chance Ruffin
2010: University of Texas
64 IP 1.11 ERA 0.94 WHIP 2.64 BB/9 13.5 K/9
Chance Ruffin was drafted in the first round-48th overall- of the 2010 draft, out of the University of Texas. The 6-foot-1, 22-year-old right handed pitcher is yet another stud reliever in the pipeline down on the farm.
Chance is the son of former MLB pitcher Bruce Ruffin. Formerly a starter for the longhorns, Ruffin chose to move to the bullpen last season. His velocity increased a bit and he found his calling as a late inning reliever.
Ruffin throws from a very low 3/4 arm angle. He has drawn a great deal of comparison to former longhorn Houston Street. Their demeanor on the mound and college numbers are quite similar. Because of these similarities many scouts have projected a similar ceiling for Ruffin. Follow the link for a nice look at Ruffin in action-hat tip to PnRScouting.com for the quality content.
Despite being a late inning reliever Ruffin features four pitches. His fastball sits between 89-94 MPH. It features plus movement with a great deal of cut, sink and run. His slurve sits in the upper 70s and his curveball sits in the low 70s. Ruffin also features a change-up that lives in the low 80s.
He relies a great deal on his breaking pitches. They all have tremendous movement and he can command and control them quite well. Perhaps the only negative note that I have read about is his tendency to rely on hitters chasing balls out of the zone. As he advances and opposing talent improves I could see this causing K/BB numbers to possibly go the wrong direction. I’m honestly not to concerned though. I believe that Ruffin has the tools and smarts required to adapt to professional hitters. If his strikeout and walk ratios are even somewhat in the neighborhood of where they’ve been, we are in for a real treat.
NOTES AND NUMBERS:
After signing late Ruffin was added to the Arizona Fall League for his first taste of professional baseball. His first six appearances were nothing short of a disaster, leaving him with a 6.75 ERA. Ruffin settled down though and allowed just one earned run his final five appearances. He also held batters to a .188 average. Beyond a couple poor performances, this was a solid start to his professional career.
Ruffin has been noted to hold runners very well. He also appears to work pretty fast on the mound. The most random yet amazing tidbit of info that I could dig up was in regards to his hat. Apparently Ruffin also keeps track of his strikeout victims on the brim of his cap for motivation (hat tip to David Tokarz-BlessYouBoys.com).
Ruffin is listed by most scouts in the top twenty of the Tigers current prospects. He is ranked as high as seventh by both John Sickels and Baseball America. His slider was also named the best in the Tigers farm system by Baseball America.
I believe quite strongly that Ruffin will be a part of the bullpen in 2012. I just have a strong feeling that regardless of his production this spring the bullpen is a bit crowded for him to get a realistic shot out the gate. If Ruffin continues to post solid numbers then perhaps he is called up if/when injuries occur.
Aggressive promotion with Ruffin would be a reasonable approach. His numbers have shown no indication to doubt his ability to strike out batters and avoid walks.
While I wish that he would start in Lakeland for my own selfish reasons, I see AA Erie or AAA Toledo as a more likely landing spot for Ruffin this season.
Keep an eye on Chance Ruffin as he continues to earn his stripes down on the farm.