Ben Ruta has not been a member of the New York Yankees organization for quite a while, but that did not stop him from inserting himself into the team's prevailing narrative this summer.
Ruta, now 29, started his improbable Yankees career as a 30th-round draft pick out of Wagner College back in 2016. Sure, he'd played in the esteemed wood bat Cape Cod League, but ... he'd gotten two at-bats in Cotuit. The Yankees plucked him out of obscurity, and he largely paid dividends. In 2018, he became your WFAN caller uncle's favorite prospect, hitting .300 ("like dey used to!!!") with eight homers, 37 steals and a respectable .791 OPS at Single-A Tampa.
From that point forward, though, the odds began to fight back against Ruta. In 2019, his OPS fell to .726 at Double-A, his average to a less impressive (and still powerless) .260. The pandemic closed the book on his Yankees career; his attempted comeback with the Padres organization in 2021 resulted in a .178 average and .566 OPS. In other words, his star burned out sooner than he thought it would, and it makes all the sense in the world that he'd have a grievance with the organization that discarded him after what he perceived to be a single step back.
In August 2023, Ruta gave a statement to Foul Territory indicating that Dillon Lawson's unorthodox methods produced a whole lot of swing-and-miss and emphasized very few fundamentals. In his dark words, "no baseball [was] being taught" in the Yankees system at the time of his departure.
In a moment of levity, midway through Brian Cashman's unhinged screed at the GM Meetings on Tuesday, the head honcho saved a few shots for Ruta, referring to him only as "bitter boy" in the process.
Yankees GM Brian Cashman called ex-minor-leaguer "bitter boy" in NSFW rant
Pretty sure that's a Taylor Swift lyric from "Karma".
Fans yearning to find cracks in Lawson and Co.'s minor-league methods ate up Ruta's tales of exit velocity-related competitions and deemphasized situational hitting, but the fact of the matter is the team's farm system has thrived in developing offensive powerhouse rosters with low strikeout rates. The issue is the disconnect between the farm and the major leagues (as well as a few aging veteran clogs ruining the MLB roster for everyone).
You're not going to believe this, but Cashman's speech inspired Ruta to return to social media, posting a three-part Notes App description of hitting vs. swinging, as well as the mess he witnessed in the minors.
Cashman has very few pedestals to stand proudly upon these days, but Ruta's criticisms fell largely flat when the data went the other direction. Don't expect the Yankees GM to shed a tear for Ruta's 2021 regression and eventual move into media opportunities.