MIAMI -- Justin Ruggiano has been a pleasant surprise for the Marlins and manager Ozzie Guillen.
Ruggiano has hit .356 in 22 games for Miami entering Friday. The Marlins acquired the outfielder in a Minor League trade with the Astros on May 26, and selected his contract the next day. Ruggiano has also helped fill the void left in center field by the absence of Emilio Bonifacio, who is nursing a left thumb injury suffered in May.
"Ruggiano, every time we play him, he gives you great at-bats," Guillen said. "I love the way he plays, I love the way he runs the bases."
While Ruggiano has been a breath of fresh air in a Marlins lineup that has struggled with consistency, the outfielder has been particularly impressive in June. Entering the opener against the Phillies, Ruggiano was third in the National League in batting average this month at .364 (16-for-44), trailing only Cincinnati's Joey Votto (.393) and Atlanta's Jason Heyward (.370).
Ruggiano's .462 on-base percentage this month is second only to Votto's .495 in the NL. His .705 slugging percentage is fourth in the league behind Rockies outfielder Tyler Colvin (.737), Heyward (.716) and Votto (.708).
Along with his stellar performance at the plate, Ruggiano has played -- along with Scott Cousins -- what Guillen described as the best defense the team has had in center field all season.
What has impressed Guillen most about Ruggiano's performance, however, is that he was in the Minors when the Marlins traded for him in May.
"Sometimes you wonder why these guys play in Triple-A," Guillen said. "I see this guy's ability and what he can bring to the table, and he was in Triple-A when we got him. With us, he has been great -- good pinch-hits, great at-bats, playing very good defense. [I'm] very happy and very glad we have him."