Padres Prospect Interview: Keoni Ruth

In Spring Training, Keoni Ruth was giving pointers to several prospects that were manning first base for the first time. Now, he finds himself playing the position in Lake Elsinore.

Over the last year and a half, you have played at four different levels. Can you talk about that.

Keoni Ruth: It has been a good experience. Fortunately, I got off to a good start in Arizona last year and was able to move up. There were some spots open at the higher levels because of injuries and they gave me an opportunity to fill in. It was a good experience. I got to show what I could do and see the different levels of competition. I think it helped me out for the better moving forward.

Was there a difference, something you saw that you can use moving forward?

Keoni Ruth: Definitely – the pace was a lot quicker, especially when I got to Portland. Going from A-ball to High-A – that was a pretty good jump. The pitching was much better. As you move up higher, the pitchers are more consistent with different pitches, rather than just one pitch. They go to off-speed pitches when they need a strike. You can see the difference.

You have been aggressive at times on the bases. Looking to the back half of the season, are you planning on being more aggressive?

Keoni Ruth: I like to be aggressive. Hopefully, I will get some opportunities to steal some more bases. I know that I need more attempts. I would like to steal a little more. Even if they don't run me, I would like to go out and take the extra base. Hustle. I believe hustle will make up for some of that.

Is there something you are working on in the second half of the season?

Keoni Ruth: I am always looking to make sure the timing is right and to get back in the groove. My body is ready for the rest of the year. Offensively, it is working on the timing and working up the middle of the field with my approach. Defensively, I am working on my footwork and playing good solid defense.

You have been somewhat of a leader on the field from second base. I remember in spring training, you were helping out some of the guys who had migrated to first base from the outfield. You were giving encouragement and some pointers. Was that normal?

Keoni Ruth: It was new to a few guys. We had quite a few new first baseman that I was trying to help out. I am familiar with the bunt coverages and cutoffs. They were getting used to it so I tried to help them out. By the end, they had caught on and didn't need me to tell them what to do.

You have some pop in your bat that surprises some people but what is the true strength of your game?

Keoni Ruth: I am more of a line drive type hitter. I try and use the whole field. If you are going to pitch me away, I am not going to try and pull it. I am going to go with it. I think that is where my success comes. If they come in, my hands are quick enough to get to the inside pitch.

I put on some weight this year and am a lot stronger than last year. I am not saying I will ever hit a lot of home runs but can get a few out of the ballpark.

Did you feel like you got away from that approach when you left the lower levels and at some points this year?

Keoni Ruth: I did. That is the ups and downs of the season. I had sat a few games and it broke the rhythm. That is not an excuse. When I got in there, I still wanted to take the same approach. I think I made it to be a little more than I thought it was. I calmed down and have been making contact but at times they have not fallen for me.

What is going to make for a successful rest of the year?

Keoni Ruth: Staying healthy and learning everyday. Offensively, having a good approach and defensively staying on top of every pitch. That is how I am going to be successful.

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