TRENTON, NJ – Eric Ruth admits he really enjoys playing for the Trenton Thunder.
After all, the 6-foot, 195-pound right-hander enjoys “home cooking,” not only when he is toeing the rubber in Arm&Hammer Park or on the road every five days. For Ruth, it’s actually like being home.
“My family comes to see me as much as they can,” said Ruth, named Eastern League Pitcher of the Week Monday after winning both of his starts last week, dominating both Erie and Portland. “My house (in Harleysville, Pa.) is just 45 minutes away. This is just great for me.
“It’s really a nice thing that my family gets to see me pitch,” added Ruth, who made his 2015 Double-A debut May 9 at New Hampshire and has fashioned a 3-0, 2.04 mark in six starts with the 27-24 Double-A Thunder, who enjoyed a day off Monday before a quick three-game series at Binghamton.
Ruth s a somewhat local guy when it comes to Trenton. He attended North Penn High in Lansdale, Pa., which, as the crow flies, is not far from the Thunder’s South Trenton ballyard. He then played at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C, the town in which the Triple-A Charlotte Knights played in before moving to a new Uptown yard in Charlotte last season.
As Winthrop’s closer as a senior, Ruth allowed just two earned runs in 41.2 innings. The Yankees signed him as a non-drafted free-agent June 14, 2013.
“I’m just thankful for both the chance I got with the Yankees, and the fact I’ve been able to make it to Double-A,” said Ruth. “It’s an accomplishment.”
Ruth does not throw hard – his fastball barely is clocked at 90 mph – but he mixes in a better-than-average slider and an effective changeup. The keys to his success are he pitches to contact as well as anyone on the Thunder staff and throws strikes.
During his 7-inning effort Saturday night, he allowed just a single run, four hits, struck out six and walked two. He threw 104 pitches on a sticky, humid evening as Trenton notched an 8-2 win.
“We’re a few months into the season,” Ruth said. “No problem for me throwing that many pitches. I felt good the whole time I was out there.”
With clocks now in place in all Double-A and Triple-A parks, one easily notices Ruth works fast, trusts his stuff and throws strikes, just what development people want to see.
“Eric is a kid who goes out there and gives you 100 percent every time,” said Thunder manager Al Pedrique. “He works fast and throws strikes, which we like.
“Tonight (Saturday) he had his fastball and slider working, as well as his changeup. He’s not afraid to challenge hitters and works both sides of the plate. There are guys who have more velocity but as are not as effective.”
Ruth shows confidence on the mound and, as Pedrique stated, has a plan when he goes out there. The former Winthrop University closer, 24, is certainly among pitchers taking a major step forward in the Yankees system in 2015.
“I have to throw strikes and mix it up,” he said. “I don’t throw hard, but I know I can get guys out if I put the ball where I need to.”
The kid from not-so-far-away North Penn High is another Ruth with Yankees ties making a name for himself.