Max Mannis: How do you feel about the progress you made in the 2019 season?
Ben Ruta: I learned a ton in the 2019 season. Overall, I was happy with my year personally, but I believe what I learned from the full season in AA is going to help me immensely in the future. Every year is about gaining more knowledge and using that knowledge to power future success, and I was excited about putting that to the test this season.
Mannis: What are you doing to stay prepared for the baseball season while stuck in quarantine?
Ruta: I am on a great routine during quarantine. I hit and lift four times a week, and do a lot of maintenance on my body to make sure it is fresh and ready. We don’t know when the time will come to get called back in, but when that moment does happen, I believe the turn around time will be short. That is why I feel it’s important to stay with this routine- because it will allow me to hit the ground running. Chance always favors the prepared.
Mannis: How was your second big league spring training different from your first one last season?
Ruta: The big difference for me was the playing time in the major league games. Although it got cut short, I was attending almost every game and getting in a lot of them as well. It was nice to get those opportunities early in camp to show you belong at the highest level.
Mannis: Were there any specific players you tried to spend a lot of time speaking to or watching during spring training?
Ruta: No specific players, but my approach is to always have my ears and eyes open. You can observe a lot if you just watch and listen instead of having your headphones in or staring at your phone. I like to hang out in the cage a lot and watch guys’ routines. Everyone is different, but they are all successful, and you can take bits and pieces and apply them to yourself from all different types of players.
Mannis: After getting a taste of Double-A in 2018, you played all season there in 2019. How was it different playing a full season there?
Ruta: When you play a full season somewhere, it is much more comfortable. You’re familiar with the stadiums, teams, opposing players, umpires and various cities. That is a huge plus.
Mannis: You started 54 games in center field, 34 games in right field and 23 games in left field in 2019. Do you feel particularly comfortable at one of those positions, or do you hope you can continue to rotate around the outfield?
Ruta: I feel great at all three positions. All of them are unique and require slightly different skills, which I personally think is cool. Versatility is a huge advantage for me, and I will continue to work at all three.
Mannis: You were Trenton’s leadoff hitter for most games during their Eastern League championship title run in 2019. What was your experience like playing in the postseason and winning the title?
Ruta: It was an amazing experience. I always say the Yankees don’t win on accident. Winning is an acquired skill. You see guys going down in the majors and you plug in guy after guy, and the team doesn’t skip a beat. That is a testament to what we learn in the minors. Some organizations don’t teach winning, but the Yankees live and die by it.
Mannis: You started for the Eastern Division in the 2019 Eastern League All-Star Game and recorded a hit in your first at-bat. What was it like getting that experience and playing with players from all across the league?
Ruta: That was a fun experience. It was in a great city in Richmond, and they did an amazing job hosting. It was cool interacting with guys from other teams for a longer period of time that you know, but can only talk to for maybe a minute in BP or during the season. I also got to enjoy the moment with my family, so that was an added bonus.
Mannis: How do you think the proposal to cut 42 of the minor league teams would affect baseball as a whole, as well as your career personally?
Ruta: I’m not exactly sure how it would affect my career or the careers of others. I guess time will tell on that end. I will say, though, that I was a 30th round pick who just needed an opportunity to prove he could play.
Mannis: What are your goals for the 2020 season, if it gets played?
Ruta: My goals are detailed with the main goal being to make my debut this year. That is then split into smaller goals that will help me reach that end goal.
Max Mannis: Would a shortened season change your mindset regarding what you hope to accomplish?
Ben Ruta: My mindset would stay the same regardless of what happens this year. I always feel like I have something to prove. I’m just a 30th round pick from Wagner College. That chip will never leave my shoulder, and I’ll look to go out there and prove my numbers are no fluke.