Mars’ Teddy Ruffner turning heads on baseball diamond this summer

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Tuesday, August 4, 2020 | 2:33 PM


Despite the circumstances surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, Mars senior Teddy Ruffner has stayed busy this summer, and he’s making the most of the situation.

The Mars catcher has made up for his lost junior baseball season. He said between the Youngstown Class B league and his Pittsburgh Diamond Dawgz team, he’s been playing four or five games per week and is putting on a show while doing it.

“The kid is a really good player and he plays at a really high speed,” Pittsburgh Diamond Dawgz coach Frank Merigliano said. “He’s probably the most physical player that we’ve ever had in terms of what he brings to the table physically. I mean he’s a 6.6 (60-yard dash) runner as a catcher, which is ridiculous, and he’s a 195-pound spark plug. He plays the game at an intensity level that you don’t see very often.”

After his junior season was canceled in the spring, Ruffner figured he would get to play baseball at some point this summer, he just didn’t know when it would happen. He expected July or August but as leagues took form, Ruffner was quickly playing multiple games a week.

He also has caught the attention of college coaches, and his recruitment has started to take off. Ruffner said he has several options on the table for his post-high school plans.

“(Recruiting) has picked up a lot especially in the last few weeks,” Ruffner said. “My travel ball coach, Frank Merigliano, has done a great job of getting in contact with coaches and sending them video and texting them and getting my name out there. I’ve talked to a lot of schools in the past week or two, just constantly on the phone with coaches and it really has picked up. It’s good to have a lot more options right now.”

Ruffner said he’s talked to some Division I and III schools for baseball. He’s also announced football offers from Carnegie Mellon and Bowdoin College and despite the circumstances, it doesn’t look like it will slow down anytime soon.

Since joining the Pittsburgh Diamond Dawgz, Merigliano has seen Ruffner’s game reach a new level over the past year.

“With the work he’s put in and all the stuff that we’ve done, I think he went from being an unknown to a kid that is a legitimate Division I prospect,” Merigliano said. “When he came to us in the fall, he was still doing football so he was doing as much as he could, but I wasn’t sure where he would end up, but I knew the physical part of it was there. But he put the work in, he’s elevated his game and he’s a different guy than what he was last year. There’s no question.”

Ruffner (5-11, 195) carried the ball 263 times for 1,919 yards and averaged 7.3 yards per carry for the Fightin’ Planets last fall as they made a WPIAL Class 5A playoff appearance.

Ruffner said he’s been playing both sports since he was a little kid and knows at some point, he’s going to have to pick between the two. But he isn’t quite ready to make that decision yet.

“I’m keeping both options open at the moment,” Ruffner said. “I want to see after I get all the offers and talk to all the coaches, whatever school is the best fit that’s where I’m going to go. I don’t want to limit any options right now. I’ve been playing both sports since I was like 5 or 6 years old so it’s going to be hard to definitely give up one.”

When he does make that decision and if he does choose to play baseball, Merigliano believes Ruffner’s game could take another giant leap forward when he’s focusing solely on baseball.

“Once he becomes a full-time baseball player and football is out of the picture, I think you’ll see another jump,” Merigliano said. “When it becomes a full-time focus on baseball, I think you’ll see that next level jump again.”

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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