Texas Outfielder Playing Well

Ryan Russ shares a lot in common with Cole Bruce. Both are from Texas, both were not drafted after their collegiate careers, then signed with the Dodgers as free agents and both suffer from the dilemma of having people constantly confuse their first and last names.

They've been teammates a lot, too. Not in college -- Russ played at the University of Texas, Bruce at the University of Houston. Certainly, as pros, though. They were at Ogden last year, started this season in the extended camp, were promoted to Vero Beach, then sent back to Columbus. That's where they've parted ways, at least, for the time being, for Bruce is back up with Vero while Russ continues to play for Columbus.

And play quite well, too. He's in the Catfish outfield on a regular basis; at first as a corner man, lately, after Jamie Hoffmann went up to Vero as the center fielder. During that time, he's demonstrated that he has the arm and the speed to play anywhere you want him out there.

He's swinging the bat well, too. His current stats are .285-6-44. He's banged 18 doubles and five triples to compile a .452 slugging percentage. Manager Travis Barbary has been counting on him to hit with men on and he's been coming through.

In college, he played on the national champs (and with two others currently at Vero Beach -- pitchers Danny Muegge and Justin Simmons). He produced at Ogden after signing, putting together an 11-game hitting streak in August (15-for-37) that included five doubles, a triple and 16 runs scored. For the season he wound up .327-1-15.

That lone home run concerned some because he's a rugged 6-2, 195 and they'd like more power. It seems to be coming although he's a line drive type, more inclined to hit gappers than drive for distance.

He has another thing in common with Bruce, too. He's 24 years old now and when you sign as a free agent, it's usually a case of "What have you done for me lately?" So far, his latest performances are such that he merits further inspection.