CLEVELAND -- Outfielder Brian Ruiz was merely a 41st-round selection by the Indians on the third and final day of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, but he's already on the radar of manager Manny Acta.
Acta and Ruiz actually know each other well. They met last year at a Hispanic Heritage Month event at which Acta was the keynote speaker, and Ruiz, a fellow native of the Dominican who attended high school locally at Lincoln-West, was an attendee.
"I kept in touch with him and his coach," Acta said. "I just left them tickets a week ago in Toronto. I talked to him during batting practice, and he had a workout with the Blue Jays the very next morning."
Ruiz asked Acta to show up at his workout, and the skipper obliged.
"I gave him a bit of a pep talk the day before," Acta said. "I was telling him there isn't a guarantee that he's going to be a professional player, and he has to keep up his grades up."
Ruiz is the rare player who used a wooden bat throughout his high school career, and he used it again when facing live pitching at the Jays workout. Tribe amateur scouting director Brad Grant said the 18-year-old Ruiz, a veteran of the Cleveland RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) program, is an athletic kid with the ability to play center field. The Indians will continue to scout him in area summer leagues.
Acta has, in his own words, "zero involvement" in the scouting side of things, so Ruiz didn't come to the organization as a result of his recommendation.
"I don't even think [the front office] knows I know him," Acta said. "I'm very happy we were able to draft him. He loves the game and has a lot of passion for it."