Ruiz finds out quickly that he belongs with Isotopes - Albuquerque Journal

Ruiz finds out quickly that he belongs with Isotopes

Rio Ruiz, nicknamed ‘Big River,’ was pleasantly pleased to see his new home field adorned with his first name when he arrived to play in Albuquerque for the Isotopes. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Journal)

As one would do when they arrive in a new city for a new job, Rio Ruiz pulled out the phone when he got to Albuquerque in May.

It was the first time the veteran of six Big League seasons who has been nicknamed “Big River” since high school realized the official name of his new office: Rio Grande Credit Union Field at Isotopes Park.

“When I first got here, I just typed in Isotopes Park (in his phone) and that’s what showed up,” said Ruiz, who extended his hitting streak to 16 games in Monday night’s 6-5 loss to the visiting Tacoma Rainiers.

“Then when my wife and I first pulled in the stadium, I pointed the sign to my wife and we just kind of laughed. It’s funny.”

The 27-year-old who was designated for assignment by the Baltimore Orioles on May 18 and quickly picked up by the Colorado Rockies said he would be thrilled if the coincidence — Rio Grande is Spanish for Big River — is an omen.

Something seems to be working in his favor since joining the Isotopes.

Ruiz, a fourth-round draft pick of the Houston Astros in 2012 out of Bishop Amat Memorial High School in La Puente, Calif., made his Major League debut by the age of 22 for the Atlanta Braves in 2016.

He played 72 games over three seasons with the Braves and 213 over the past three seasons with the Orioles before being waived May 18, hitting just .167 this season.

The Colorado Rockies signed him May 24 and he played his first game for the Triple-A Isotopes on May 27. He’s hitting .295 through 25 games with Albuquerque, including a hitting streak that was extended Monday night on the third pitch he saw to lead off the Isotopes half of the first inning — one the team erupted for five runs before recording an out.

“I mean he’s ready,” said Isotopes manager Warren Schaeffer. “… He’s been around so long. His approach is good every night. I mean, he’s a pro. He works everyday — hard, and he knows what he’s doing.”

Ruiz said his job now is just about mixing patience with applying what he’s learned at past stops to his daily approach. And getting to play every day, he admits, has helped him plenty in his production.

“Just getting my at-bats — getting my everyday reps again,” Ruiz said when asked about his solid play of late. “There’s no doubt that I believe I can play there (at the Major League level). … I’ve learned from the experiences that I’ve had so far up there. You just take the good and the bad and learn from it and just apply that to my everyday routine.”

WE’RE GOING STREAKING: Speaking of hitting streaks, Ruiz’s 16-game streak is one of seven 16-game streaks in Isotopes history.

There have been 16 hitters post longer hitting streaks in the franchise’s 18-year history and just five Isotopes have had hitting streaks reach 20 or more games:

• 28: Mike Tauchman, 2017*

• 24: Dustin Garneau, 2017**

• 24: Daniel Castro, 2018

• 21: Jerry Sands, 2012

• 20: Dee Gordon, 2013

* Tauchman’s streak stretched over the final 25 games of the 2016 season and first three of the 2017 season.

** Garneau’s streak started with his final 11 games of the 2016 season and first 13 of the 2017 season, though he started the 2017 season with the Colorado Rockies.

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