Darin Ruf made the Phillies front office take notice of him with 20 HR in August (Photo Credit: Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE)

2012 MiLB HR Leaders: Ruf and Myers Pace the Pack

The 2012 season is in the books, the statistical leaders are set in stone and it’s all now a part of baseball history. With my Fish Watch series wrapped up for the year, I wanted to recap the MiLB leaders in a number of stats before I throw myself into the loving embrace of our 2013 Top-100 prospect list. For each statistical category, I will list the Top-5 finishers from all levels, give their 2012 stat line and then add a few paragraphs of commentary. From there I will list out the leaders from each of the leagues with affiliation to the various major league organizations.

Home runs seemed like a logical place to start since “chicks dig the long ball” and the top two finishers this season were former Creighton Blue Jay and a Royals Prospect.

Top-5 Overall (All Levels)

38 HR – Darin Ruf (26) – 1B/OF – Reading Phillies (AA)

0.317/.408/.620, 32 2B, 1 3B, 38 HR, 2 SB, 65 BB and 102 SO in 584 PA

If you know of anyone that predicted Darin Ruf would lead the minors in home runs in 2012, I suggest you take them to Vegas with you or have them pick some stocks for you to invest in. Or … maybe not since as they say, “lightning doesn’t strike twice.”  The former Creighton 1B (Go Jays!!) has always been a bat first player, and he did hit 0.308/.388/.506 with 43 2B and 17 HR last season in the FSL, but he took his game to an entirely new level in 2012. He set career highs in all three slash stats, finished with an OPS over 1.000, and forced the Phillies to give him a look at the major league level – skipping over Triple-A in the process.

With Philadelphia he hit 0.333/.351/.727 in 37 PA and cracked another three home runs giving him a total of 41 on the year. At 6’3″, 220 lbs he’s not the most athletic player you’ll come across, but he’s actually quite a skilled defensive 1B aside from his limited range. That range holds him back in LF as well but he will catch what he gets to. He’s old for a prospect and he’s coming off a career year – which included a 20 HR month of August – so it may be a bit early to assert with any confidence that he can carve out a career in the majors. That said, as a fellow Creighton alum, I’m certainly pulling for him.

37 HR – OF/3B Wil Myers (21), NW Arkansas Naturals and Omaha Storm Chasers (Royals)

0.314/.387/.600, 26 2B, 6 3B, 37 HR, 6 SB, 61 BB and 140 SO in 591 PA

Unlike Ruf, Myers has been a household name of Royals fans and prospect fans alike for a number of seasons. Baseball America had him ranked as the 28th best prospect in the game entering 2012 and he landed at #16 on Nathaniel’s S2S Top-100. Myers will hold a lofty spot in our 2013 list as well and is one of the early front runners for 2013 AL Rookie of the Year honors.

35 HR – 1B Mike Hessman (34), Oklahoma City RedHawks (Astros)

0.231/.301/.512, 19 2B, 35 HR, 40 BB and 136 SO in 492 PA

The senior citizen of this group, Hessman is well past his prospect days, but he’s long been a presence atop HR leaderboards. His 35 long balls in 2012 were a career high but he’s eclipsed 30 two other times (2007 and 2008). He now has a total of 384 HR – with 254 hit in Triple-A – in his 17 year professional career. The last of his 14 major league homers came back in 2010 with the Mets.

With all the power comes a slew of contact issues and a 0.231/.312/.461 slash line. Despite all the experience his propensity to swing and miss remains and is fully evident in his 28.4 K% over the course of his minor league career.

30  HR – 2B/3B Jedd Gyorko (24), San Antonio Missions and Tuscon Padres

0.311/.373/.547, 28 2B, 30 HR, 5 SB, 51 BB and 95 SO in 557 PA

The Padres grabbed Gyorko in the 2nd Round of the 2010 MLB draft and he became the prize of their class when 1st rounder Karsten Whitson didn’t sign. There was little doubt Jedd would hit but he’s shown better defensive ability and far more in-game power than was expected. He cracked BA’s Top-100 prospect list at #98 but some viewed his 47 2B and 25 HR output in 2011 with more skepticism – in part because he spent 81 of his 140 games in the California League.  He answered a lot of those doubts by surging to hit 0.328/.380/.588 in his time with Tuscon this year.

Now a career 0.319/.385/.529 hitter in three minor league seasons he stands on the cusp of the majors with experience at both 2B and 3B. Barring a significant injury, or some other random and detrimental event, Gyorko should find himself in San Diego’s lineup on Opening Day or shortly thereafter. He didn’t make the cut for the 2012 S2S Top-100 but I promise he has a spot on our 2013 list (coming soon).

30 HR – 3B Adam Duvall (24), San Jose Giants

0.258/.327/.487, 24 2B, 4 3B, 30 HR, 8 SB, 47 BB and 116 SO in 598 PA

Duvall followed up his 22 HR performance in the South Atlantic League with an even 30 in the California League in 2012. On top of the long balls he drove in 100 runs and scored 101 in 134 games with San Jose. If I was writing this in the 1980s, as opposed to today, there would likely be a lot more enthusiasm about his season. But it’s 2012 and we view and evaluate statistics much differently than we used to. While he upped his HR output, all three of his slash stats fell off compared to the 0.285/.385/.527 line he turned in with Augusta in 2011. His OPS dipped from 0.912 to 0.814 despite having the benefit of the Cal League environment on his his in 2012. I didn’t regard him as much of a prospect this past offseason and he did little to change that in 2012.

Leaders by League:

  • International: Hessman (see above)
  • Pacific Coast: 28 HR – 1B/3B  Dan Johnson (33), Charlotte Knights (White Sox)
  • Eastern: Ruf (see above)
  • Southern: 28 HR – 1B Hunter Morris (24), Huntsville Stars (Brewers)
  • Texas: 28 HR – 3B/1B Mike Olt (24), Frisco Rough Riders (Rangers)
  • California: Duvall (see above)
  • Carolina: 22 HR – 1B Aaron Baker (25), Frederick (Orioles) and OF Trayce Thompson (21), Winston Salem (White Sox)
  • Florida State: 24 HR – OF Marcell Ozuna (21), Jupiter Hammerheads (Marlins)
  • Midwest: 28 HR – 3B Miguel Sano (19), Beloit Snappers (Twins)
  • South Atlantic: 27 HR – 3B Matt Skole (23), Hagerstown Suns (Nationals)
  • New York-Penn: 10 HR – 1B Saxon Butler (22) and C Peter O’Brien (22), Staten Island Yankees
  • Northwest: 12 HR – 3B Patrick Kivlehan (22) and 1B Taylor Ard (22), Everett AquaSox (Mariners)
  • Appalachian: 14 HR – 3B Patrick Leonard (20), Burlington Royals and OF Adam Walker (21), Elizabethton Twins
  • Arizona: 18 HR – 3B Joey Gallo (18), Spokane Indians (Rangers)
  • Gulf Coast: 8 HR – OF Yeicok Calderon (20), GCL Yankees
  • Pioneer: 16 HR – OF Julian Yan (20), Grand Junction Rockies
  • Dominican Summer: 11 HR – OF Gabriel Guerrero (18), DSL Mariners
  • Venezuelan Summer: 11 HR – 1B Iago Januario (19), VSL Rays


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Tags: Adam Duvall Darin Ruf Houston Astros Jedd Gyorko Kansas City Royals Mike Hessman Philadelphia Phillies San Diego Padres San Francisco Giants Wil Myers

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