Originally posted on Fox Sports Houston  |  Last updated 6/26/12
HOUSTON -- This was a coordinated effort that, given their blend of decision makers old and new, validated the Astros' sense of accomplishment. As fourth-round pick Rio Ruiz took his hacks during batting practice Monday at Minute Maid Park, buoyed by his beaming family and shrewd advisor Scott Boras, Astros brass passed around the baton of praise. Landing a first-round talent like Ruiz where they did in the first-year player draft (129th overall) was a testament to scouting camaraderie that typically takes years to build. That the Astros executed this steal with first-year general manager Jeff Luhnow revealed his professional respect for the innumerable hours that went into scouting Ruiz. The Astros signed Ruiz (6-foot-1, 180 pounds), a third baseman out of Bishop Amat (La Puente, Calif.) High, to a 1.85 million bonus, roughly 1.5 million over the slot allocation for the first pick of the fourth round. Ruiz missed the majority of his senior season following surgery to alleviate a blood clot in his right clavicle. Despite that interruption in the scouting process, the Astros aggressively pursued Ruiz throughout. "It became about finances and more importantly trust," Astros scouting director Bobby Heck said. "You need a general manager who's been out in the trenches like we have and understands the scouting side. He spent summers in the ballparks, falls in the ballparks, and that's why you collect all that data. For him to sign off on it, it's a tribute to the work you and your scouts do during the summer and fall to collect all those at-bats and innings. "You have an opportunity like this, let's seize it." At stake with Ruiz was determining precisely how much value he offered an organization following his injury-marred senior season. As a junior, Ruiz hit .455 with 14 doubles, three home runs and 35 RBIs. He was a fixture on the all-star summer circuit, participating in multiple Area Code Games and Southern California Scout League events. He was a Rawlings First Team All-American entering his senior season and ranked among the nation's top prep bats. His talent was unquestioned. The injury threw a monkey wrench in the proceedings because not only did Ruiz stand firm on his demands for a seven-figure bonus, he was armed with a commitment to Southern California. That double dose of uncertainty led to his fall in the draft, but the Astros were undaunted. "That's a dynamic of the draft once you get past a certain point in the draft," Luhnow said. "People knew that he was a player that would be difficult to sign because his college opportunity was so attractive and there was a missing piece of information of being able to scout him this spring. But we felt very good about the work that we had done, not only on the playing side, but also getting to know him as a person, getting to know his character. And we felt very positive about that." So, too, did Boras, who had extensive knowledge of Ruiz even before establishing a relationship with the family as their advisor. Boras' son Trent, a rising sophomore infielder at USC, played with Ruiz on the all-star circuit, and from that vantage point Boras discovered that Ruiz was a unique talent. He was mature, a multisport standout for a powerhouse athletic program, and routinely flashed tantalizing promise as a slugger. When it came down to brass tacks, Boras and the Ruizes did not waver from their position. When Ruiz regained his health he would again excel. Whether that was with the Trojans or in the minor leagues depended upon the franchise willing to take a flyer on his enormous potential. "When you make decisions like this, this is probably the truest form of scouting because you have to know the player really, really well," Boras said. "You have to know his history going back sophomore, junior year in high school. You have to know a lot about him because you didn't get to see the current. I know from our perspective we had to make the same decision because we don't represent a lot of high school players. "These decisions are a lot about what scouts truly believe about the character of a player, about what he is. Often this is how you hit the home runs." The Astros went all in. They were the only team to conduct a private workout with Ruiz in the days leading up to the draft, running him through the paces despite his being sidelined for roughly four months. Their vigilance was a byproduct of their homework, from scout Tim Costic, whose legwork kept Ruiz in play on the Astros' draft board, through west coast supervisor Mark Ross and national cross checker David Post. Along with Heck, Post had multiple looks on Ruiz, so as their reports filtered through the system, with special assistant Mike Elias also in the mix, the plan grew firm and definitive. The Astros, with the blessing of owner Jim Crane, had the finances to make a play for Ruiz. "Jim was involved every step of the way, and in fact helped with a couple of these discussions," Luhnow said. "It's nice to have backing from ownership and from the top down. But this strategy was put in place even before I was hired that we were going to, as an organization, be very aggressive about developing the best young talent in baseball. "This is just one piece of that puzzle." Puerto Rican shortstop Carlos Correa, the first overall pick in the draft, and Tampa (Fla.) Jesuit High right-handed pitcher Lance McCullers Jr., the Astros' second selection, were earlier pieces to sign and initiate their professional careers. By inking Ruiz to such a substantial bonus, the Astros are unlikely to sign Camarillo (Calif.) left-hander Hunter Virant, an 11th-round selection with designs on a seven-figure bonus. Virant, evaluated as a first-rounder by most in the industry, will attend UCLA. Given what they've gained, the Astros shouldn't sweat the one that will likely get away. For all they have invested in Ruiz, getting him signed and shipped off to the Gulf Coast League represents an example of organizational teamwork. By doing their homework, they allowed Ruiz to relish in the opportunity to move beyond the specter of his injury. "It was my family and friends," Ruiz said. "My grandparents, my parents kept praying for me knowing that this thing would go away and potentially I'd get back to what I am now. I got cleared last Thursday and I'm out here doing what I love to do, and there's no better feeling. "With God's help, all things are possible." Follow me on Twitter at moisekapenda
MORE FROM YARDBARKER:
Is Madison Bumgarner a bully?
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Newspaper runs insensitive headline following Mets win

Curt Schilling plans to run against Elizabeth Warren in 2018

WATCH: Tebow homers on first pitch he sees in first game

Report: Garoppolo still dealing with shoulder pain, mobility

JJ Watt placed on IR, reportedly expected to miss rest of 2016

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Nationals GM: Strasburg ‘unlikely to pitch in NLDS’

Nebraska regent wants players kicked off team for kneeling during anthem

WATCH: Wayne Gretzky tells the hilarious story of his secret Hall of Fame visit

Wilson Ramos done for year with torn ACL

Sam Allardyce, English FA announce contract termination just 67 days into the job

Report: Clint Dempsey to miss rest of 2016 MLS season

Breaking down baseball’s Cy Young ballot

TailGreater: 'Sterngating' with the Huskies

Can anyone challenge the Cavs in murky Eastern Conference?

2016 Ryder Cup preview: Five things to watch this weekend

Lesser known MMA fighters who could be ready for the WWE

Box Score: 9/28 - Bosh, FIFA, Ali and Mangenius

Geno Smith deletes Instagram post possibly critical of Jets

Most glaring flaw for each MLB playoff contender

The Worst - NFL Week 3: Steve Smith, Odell Beckham & of course the Browns

FIFA 17 review: O jogo bonito

To save his legacy Chris Bosh must first protect his health

What the NBA (and world) looked like before Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Breaking down baseball’s Cy Young ballot

TailGreater: 'Sterngating' with the Huskies

Can anyone challenge the Cavs in murky Eastern Conference?

The Worst - NFL Week 3: Steve Smith, Odell Beckham & of course the Browns

FIFA 17 review: O jogo bonito

To save his legacy Chris Bosh must first protect his health

What the NBA (and world) looked like before Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan

A fond farewell to Vin Scully

So where will the ACC football championship be played?

Kevin Garnett's unique NBA career proves anything is possible

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker