Class A Potomac outfielder Junior Ruiz has always been good at taking advantage of opportunities. So near the end of May, when the Cannons named him their everyday right fielder and leadoff hitter, he wasted little time doing it again.
On May 29, Ruiz was batting .189. Since that date, however, Ruiz has appeared in 14 of 16 games, 12 times as the leadoff hitter. And he has gone 16 for 49 (.326) to bring his average up to .244.
"Anybody that plays a little bit more of a consistent basis is going to be more consistent," said Ruiz, a native of Manteca, Calif. "If I have a good game, I get to carry that over and if I have a bad game I still get to carry over."
The opportunity to play every day has given Ruiz, 24, the chance to bounce back from poor games instead of having the frustrations of a poor effort linger. He followed a 1-for-5 performance, with three strikeouts, on Saturday with a 2-for-2 effort, with three walks, on Sunday.
He has proven to be more than capable as a leadoff batter. He has compiled a .350 on-base percentage, drawing 24 walks and scoring 36 runs in 37 games.
"When I'm on base I somehow find a way to score and help the team out," said Ruiz, who was drafted by Cincinnati in the seventh round of the 2001 draft.
An opportunity to start and remain close to home led Ruiz to San Jose State in 1999 instead of heading off to community college in Florida.
His decision paid off when he was named the Western Athletic Conference player of the year and earned a trip to the College World Series in 2000.
When he left the school following the 2001 season, he did so as the all-time leader in hits with 237, a total that was surpassed this season, and runs scored with 149.