Via the Toronto Star -
Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos just wrapped up a scouting trip to the Dominican Republic, but wouldn’t say whether Cuban first baseman Jose Julio Ruiz was one of the prospects who worked out for Jays’ staff.
Ruiz, 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds, hit .330 during a five-year career with Santiago in Cuba’s National Series, and rumours have swirled since January that the Jays had made the shortlist of teams with a chance to sign him. On Feb. 13, his agent predicted Ruiz could sign before most major league training camps opened on the weekend of Feb. 20.
Ruiz’s camp has been silent since then, but Tuesday the blog cubanballplayers.com reported the left-handed batter, who turns 26 next month, held a private workout for the Blue Jays. Ruiz has spent the winter training at the New York Yankees’ complex in the Dominican Republic, according to published reports.
Agents at Prestige Sports Agency, which represents Ruiz, have not replied to emails seeking comment.
Anthopoulos, meanwhile, confirmed that he had completed a trip to the Dominican, but would say only that Marco Paddy, the club’s director of Latin American scouting, oversaw workouts by several unnamed players.
Ruiz has attracted attention from pro scouts for his combination of size, skill and speed. In 2007-2008 he led the National Series with 32 steals. Through 52 games in the 2008-2009 season Ruiz was batting .305 but abruptly defected to the Dominican Republic.
Is this a big deal? Probably not – as the Yankees need a first base prospect like Lady Gaga needs another hit song at this moment. But, it’s a bit of a bummer if the Yankees having been hosting this kid all winter and then he signs with one of their rivals.