Profile: RHP - 6'0" - 185lbs - BT:R - TH:R - 2011 Age: 22
• FB 91-93: Can locate the pitch well, has good run. (55-60)
• SL 81-83: Good bite, well commanded (60-65)
• CV 76-79: Too slurvy, hitters can pick it up easily. (35-45)
• CH 84-86: Poor differential, doesn't have a great feel for the pitch. (30-40)
Chance is the product of a baseball family and grew up around the game with his father, Bruce Ruffin, a 12 year Major League veteran who spent the bulk of his career as both a starter and reliever with the Phillies and Rockies. After high school the younger Ruffin then followed in his father's footsteps and attended the University of Texas where he pitched as a starter for his first two years before switching to the bullpen where he was a dominant force for the Longhorns, striking out over 13/9IP. The Tigers then selected him with the 48th overall pick of the 2010 draft and eventually signed him at the deadline for a well-over-slot 1.1m.
Ruffin has some funk to his delivery and I have some concerns about the long-term durability of both his elbow, which he over extends on loading, and his shoulder given a rather violent follow through. Though the Tigers seem set on utilizing him as a bullpen pitcher, and that should help limit his injury risk. In college Ruffin worked exclusively from the stretch and utilized a high leg kick to initiate his drop and drive motion. I'd like to see more consistent arm-action from him overall, it seems that he finishes his fastball more than his off-speed offerings, while he's got some arm-whip at the end of his delivery when he throws his breaking balls.
There are some who would like to compare him to Huston Street given that he won't light up the radar gun, and his primary off speed offering is a hard biting slider. I guess that with work, I could see that. But Street had a bit more velocity to his slider, and deeper movement, and for most of his career he mixed in an effective changeup. Right now, it's tough for me to make that projection, particularly as a result of the lack of a changeup.
Corey Ettinger is a proud contributor to both 612Sports.net, 312Sports.com, and 313sports.com. He also provides extensive analysis of the American League Central Division at his own blog, AL Central In Focus. Be sure to follow me on Twitter @Coreyettinger for the latest updates, random thoughts, and general tomfoolery.