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Who is Rooker? Who Are Perez and Ruiz?

With the A’s struggling offensively, three players, including Brent Rooker, Carlos Perez, and Esteury Ruiz may just be the answers.

Going into the season, even some of the most dedicated of Oakland A’s fans only knew a handful of players. Among them likely did not include OFs Brent Rooker and Esteury Ruiz or C Carlos Perez.

While the team has been off to a relatively rough start offensively, these three each had a stellar series in the recent four games against the Baltimore Orioles. 

But who are these guys? Well, if each of them continues these hitting trends, it is never too early to familiarize oneself with them.

Brent Rooker

Acquired: Claimed off of waivers from Kansas City Royals, signed for one year at $725,000. 

Draft: 2017, Minnesota Twins Round: CB-A, pick 35

What to Look For: Regardless of the vacancies within a team during Spring Training, there are always some names with projected roster spots from the get-go. This is even true with an underdog rebuilding team like the A’s. Rooker, however, was someone who had to earn a roster spot. The 28-year-old did just that. He hit .308 with 11 walks and a .933 OPS in 39 at-bats in Arizona. He managed to beat out the speedy OF Cristian Pache for a roster spot, a move which left several fans skeptical.

Rooker is expected to display some raw power and has done just that to start. In the last three games, he had three home runs (two of which to deep center at Camden Yards) along with nine RBIs. On top of that, Rooker looks to be breaking out on defense, as shown by a spectacular diving catch out in left field on Thursday afternoon. He could be that offensive spark in the middle of the order the team needs, if their bats are going to continue to come alive.

Brent Rooker only has 24 plate appearances so far, but he looks much better than a simple waiver claim. He is tearing the cover off the ball, to the tune of a 1.137 OPS, including those three home runs. The A’s might have found a diamond in the rough.

Carlos Perez

Acquired: Signed to a minor league contract by the team for one year, worth $740,000.

Original signing: international free agent by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2008.

What to Look For: Like Rooker, Perez was not one of the Back Sports Page roster projections going into Spring Training. However, an injury to veteran C Manny Pina and a few strong at-bats in exhibition play earned Perez the backup catcher role. Since then, he has also been used as a designated hitter. So far, he has racked up eight hits in his first 13 at-bats.

Along with his home run in Wednesday’s 8-4 win, Perez had five singles in the last two games. As someone who has caught runners stealing 39% of the time in his career, we know about his defensive capabilities behind the dish. The 32-year-old is also a strong contact hitter.

If he can continue to find the gaps and display smart hitting, Perez should have the backup catcher role locked up. Maybe there is even a possibility of him becoming the starting catcher. That would be quite the comeback story for someone who hadn’t played in MLB since 2018.

Esteury Ruiz

Acquired: Traded from the Milwaukee Brewers as part of the three-team deal for C Sean Murphy.

Draft: Signed by the Royals as international free agent during 2015-16 international signing period.

What to Look For: Speaking of losing Pache and his speed, Ruiz has more than made up for this both in centerfield and on the base paths. He is a great guy to have on second base in late game run scoring situations. So far, he is 2-for-2 on stolen base attempts. He is also second among center fielders in baseball in range factor through nine innings. The speed is Ruiz’s calling card, as he stole a whopping 85 bases in the minors last year.

On top of all this, Ruiz has been hitting lately. He went 3-for-4 with two RBIs in the A’s 8-7 loss to the Orioles on Thursday. He had a hit in every game in the series and should have more big moments with the team both as a leadoff hitter and possible pinch runner.

Moving Forward

While a 3-10 start including losing three out of four games to the Orioles was not what anyone on the team was hoping for, the A’s were competitive in three of the games in the series. Their strong offensive performance was highlighted by these players. Each should have big roles with the team as they look to turn things around. They may just be the breakouts which fans were praying for.

All stats are through Thursday, April 13.

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