Keibert Ruiz Is A Focal Point For Nationals

Less than two years after the Nationals won the World Series, general manager Mike Rizzo felt it was time to “take a step sideways to allow us to take a step forward.”

In a two-day span at the trade deadline, he dealt eight major leaguers for 12 young players. The most prized of those could be switch-hitting catcher Keibert Ruiz, who was the Dodgers’ No. 1 prospect.

Ruiz, a 23-year-old signed from Venezuela in 2014, came over in the deal that sent ace Max Scherzer and all-star shortstop Trea Turner to Los Angeles. Though Ruiz was initially assigned to Triple-A Rochester, Rizzo said the catcher and new rotation piece Josiah Gray are both big league ready.

Ruiz hit .311/.381/631 with 16 home runs in 52 games for Triple-A Oklahoma City. He played in the 2018 Futures Game at Nationals Park and made his major league debut in 2020

The 6-foot, 225-pound catcher also played briefly with the Dodgers this season.

“He was a focal point of what we were trying to do at the trade deadline . . . and he was the main cog who we were trying to get,” Rizzo said. 

Righthander Gerardo Carrillo and outfielder Donovan Casey, a pair of Double-A prospects, also joined the Nationals’ system in the trade with the Dodgers.

In all, the Nationals acquired six pitchers and three catchers to add to a farm system that is also stockpiling talent through the draft. That building process is nothing new to Rizzo and the player development staff. 

“We started this thing in 2009 way below where we’re at today, as far as organizationally, and it took us three years to win 98 games,” Rizzo said.

“So, we have a great plan in place. We’ve got great people out in the field, scouting and developing our players. And we’ve got a great major league staff, and a good stable of players who are going to impact the majors in the near future.”


— Catcher Riley Adams, the return from the Blue Jays for reliever Brad Hand, joined Triple-A Rochester the day after he was traded. 

“It’s hard coming into a new staff and having to learn them on such quick notice, but I thought he did a nice job,” said Red Wings manager and former major league catcher Matt LeCroy. “He’s a nice addition.”

Adams was a third-round pick in 2017 out of the University of San Diego.

— Outfielder Ricardo Mendez recorded a 19-game hitting streak for Low-A Fredericksburg and hit .310/.350/.465 in his first 187 at-bats.

“He’s in a good hitting position consistently,” FredNats manager Mario Lisson said. “The ball has always jumped off his bat, and now he’s letting the bat work.”


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