Justin Ruggiano -- Prospect #29

Latest in a series on the top Dodger prospects as we count down to the very best.

Position- Outfield
Residence- Temple, Tex.
DOB- April 12, 1982
Wt.- 205
B/T- R/R
05 Clubs- Vero Beach (High A), Jacksonville (AA)

If there ever were an award for the most pleasant surprise in the Dodger organization, it well could go to Ruggiano. Here's a guy that almost didn't get drafted and when he did, was a lowly pick at that, who was expected really to go nowhere, yet who in two seasons, has blazed a way onto the top prospect list.

Quite an accomplishment.

As the 2004 draft was being conducted, there were those, then general manager Paul DePodesta among them, who said that Ruggiano didn't belong on the list. After all, he had batted in the .270's as a senior at Texas A &M, so why bother?

But scout Chris Smith had seen things he liked, recommended him and scouting director Logan White backed his man. So, Ruggiano was chosen albeit in the 25th round.

He then proceeded to hit .329-7-36 for Ogden but there were still those who scoffed, "So what? Plenty of guys use their college experience to hit well in rookie ball only to flame out as things get more demanding."

So, in 2005, Ruggiano first did well enough in spring training to skip Columbus to make the Vero Beach roster, then hit up a storm in the Florida State League (.310-9-37).

Thus he was pushed up to Jacksonville where he proceeded to hit .342-6-29. They can doubt credentials in the lower minors but when a guy's still doing it in AA, pay attention.

That's what Ruggiano has forced them to do. He 's made his swing more compact, is usually on the pitch and drives it hard. He also steals bases, (a total of 24 last year) and is more than acceptable in the field.

He'll probably never be a big home run man but will send his share out of the yard.

There's still doubt that he'll ever be a big league regular but notice that they're discussing his big league chances now which has come a long, long way in a relatively short time.

He'll probably start the year at Jacksonville but if he continues to show what he has so far, Las Vegas could be his next stop.

Previous Selections--
#30 -- RHP Chris Malone
#31 -- OF Cody Ross
#32 -- RHP Josh Wall
#33 -- SS Juan Rivera
#34 -- RHP Steve Johnson

#35 -- SS Scott Van Slyke
#36 -- OF John Melon
#37 -- LHP Brent Leach
#38 -- RHP Jesus Castillo
#39 -- LHP Eric Stults

#40 -- OF Xavier Paul
#41 -- LHP Miguel Sanfler
#42 -- 3B Josh Bell
#43 -- RHP Jordan Pratt
#44 -- OF Sergio Pedroza

#45 -- RHP Julio Pimentel
#46 -- 1b-1B Eduardo Perez
#47 -- RHP James McDonald
#48 -- OF Brian Myrow
#49 -- LHP Danny Muegge

#50 -- RHP Miguel Ramirez
#51 -- OF Ryan Carter
#52 -- RHP Casey Hoorelbeke
#53 -- OF Trayvon Robinson
#54 -- RHP Ramon Troncoso