If you can hit the ball really far, it will not take long for Charlie Manuel to notice. If you can hit the ball really far and with great frequency, Manuel will do more than notice. If you can do all of this while the Phillies flounder, Manuel will start thinking big things.
Such is the case with Darin Ruf, the 26-year-old slugging first baseman at double-A Reading. Manuel has watched recent video of Ruf's assault on the Eastern League.
The Phillies manager is interested.
"He's had an extraordinary year," Manuel said. "Ruf is someone who pops out at you. Ruf is trying to hit his way to the big leagues. That's what it used to be like. You had to do something to get to the big leagues. Evidently, Ruf is an old throwback."
Manuel said he wants to see Ruf, whether it be now or in spring training. He has yet to discuss the idea with his boss, Ruben Amaro Jr., but made it sound like he will stump for Ruf's candidacy. Rosters expand Saturday.
Ruf has swatted 36 home runs in 2012 with 18 in August alone. On Monday, he broke Greg Luzinski's 1970 mark for most total bases ever in a Reading season. His 36 home runs are more than any player in all of affiliated minor-league baseball.
Of course, the decision to promote Ruf is not Manuel's. Some scouts are skeptical whether Ruf has a true position in the majors. He is blocked at first base by Ryan Howard. He has played 33 career games in left field, with 23 of them coming in 2012.
His work there is limited and not pristine.
The Phillies plan for Ruf to play the outfield in winter ball. He will likely be added to the 40-man roster during the offseason if not summoned in September. That would guarantee a spring audition.
"He's on the radar screen," Amaro said Monday. "It really depends on whether he can get playing time. It is something we'll continue to talk about."
The Phillies are already committed to playing time for two corner outfielders in Domonic Brown and Nate Schierholtz while evaluating for next season. The only true center fielder on the roster is John Mayberry Jr. That could affect plans.
Manuel said playing Ruf in the outfield during a major-league game could be a risk. Then again, he's enamored with the power potential.
"If a guy can hit," Manuel said, "his defense gets a little bit better."
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