Entering his second season as the starting catcher, Keibert Ruiz is looking to build on the foundation set to begin his career. The 24-year-old holds the potential to be an All-star caliber player, is this the next step of his development in 2023?
This week we are shifting the focus of the player preview series to the Nationals' starting catcher, Keibert Ruiz. Acquired in the trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers involving Max Scherzer and Trea Turner, Ruiz arrived in D.C. with lofty expectations due to the big names involved.
The 2022 season was a positive one for Keibert. He compiled a .251 batting average with seven home runs and 36 RBIs, according to baseballreference.com. More importantly, Ruiz shut down the opposing team's running game. Keibert gunned down 20 runners on the base paths, good enough for second in the Major leagues. Ruiz also had the third most stolen base attempts by opposing teams among all catchers in the Major leagues. Pitch calling and game management could see improvement in his game, perhaps getting out of his comfort zone and being vocal behind the plate. In an interview with MLB Network, Ruiz talks about coming out of his shell and doing more in 2023.
"I want to let guys know they can trust me," said Ruiz in an MLB Network interview. "We need to have good communication in order to win."
The Washington Nationals have a young roster in 2023. Ruiz has the chance to become a leader on the field and in the clubhouse, which is exactly what coaches and the front office expects of him. With a season under his belt, Ruiz should understand the pitches he's looking for and should be more selective at the plate. Expanding his power from both sides of the plate is a skillset he's looking to improve in 2023.
CBS Sports 2023 projections Having Ruiz compiling a .234 batting average, nine home runs, and 39 RBIs, they do not see Keibert stepping in the right direction. Nationals fans should expect a step in the right direction for their young backstop due to his overwhelming potential. A more accurate stat-line prediction for Keibert's 2023 season is as follows; .272 average, 13 home runs, 52 RBIs, and 16 runners caught stealing. The new season is an exciting one for many reasons for Nationals fans, and the development of Keibert Ruiz should be at the top of their list.