One day after hitting a pinch-hit homer for the Marlins, outfielder Justin Ruggiano
was in their starting lineup. Manager Ozzie Guillen
said there is a good chance Ruggiano will see even more playing time.
“I like that kid Ruggiano,” Guillen said. “I like his approach at the plate.”
Ruggiano is proof that perseverance pays off. No major colleges recruited the Austin resident out of high school, so Ruggiano went to play for not one, but two different junior colleges.
Afterward, with interest still lacking, Ruggiano took a summer construction job.
“I was wondering if I was going to play again,” he said.
But he decided to give baseball one last shot and cold-called the coach at Texas A&M to see if he needed an outfielder. Ruggiano spent two years at A&M before being drafted by the Dodgers way down in the 25th round.
“My grandparents have a [mule deer] ranch, and the scout who drafted me said, ‘I’ll draft you, but you have to take me hunting on that ranch,’ ” Ruggiano said. “Literally, in my scouting report, it says, ‘Runs OK. Throws OK. Has a ranch he says he’ll take me hunting on.’ ”
Ruggiano’s draft bonus: “A thousand dollars — $750 after taxes.”
Ruggiano worked his way up through the minors, hitting successfully at every level: .329 at Ogden in 2004; .310 at Vero Beach and .342 at Jacksonville in 2005; .333 at Montgomery in 2006; and .309 at Durham in 2007 before he reached the majors that same season with the Tampa Bay Rays.
“I’ve always just been one step at a time,” he said. “I didn’t have anyone in my ear telling me I should be in the big leagues. I was going day by day, really.”
After losing out on Yoenis Cespedes
, the Marlins are showing strong interest in another free agent outfielder from Cuba — Jorge Soler. Ken Rosenthal
of Fox Sports reported Saturday that Soler has been declared a free agent.
Soler, 20, has “[ Giancarlo
-like power,” according to one source.
But his asking price might be too steep for the Marlins. Sources said that Soler’s agent has told teams he already has offers on the table for $25 million.
The Marlins have thoroughly scouted Soler, who defected from Cuba in 2011. The Marlins bid for Cespedes over the winter but lost out to the A’s, who signed him to a four-year, $36 million deal.
The competition for Soler is expected to be keen. According to reports, the Red Sox, Cubs, Blue Jays, Phillies, Orioles and Yankees might all have interest in him.Coming up
Marlins RHP Carlos Zambrano
(3-3, 3.00 ERA) at Philadelphia Phillies RHP Joe Blanton
(4-5, 5.05), 1:35 p.m., Citizens Bank Park.
• Scouting report:
The Marlins have won five of Zambrano’s six starts since the beginning of May. Zambrano has gone 2-3 with a 5.45 ERA in six appearances at Citizens Bank Park. Blanton has a career mark of 7-2 with a 3.20 ERA against the Marlins.