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Phils to Fill Void with Independent Leaguer

Combine Phillies minor leaguer Keoni DeRenne with Babe Ruth and what do you get? Keoni Ruth, of course!

The Phillies are expected to announce on Friday that they've signed Hawaii native Keoni Ruth and will assign him to Class A Lakewood to fill the void left when the organization traded All-star shortstop Jonathan Villar to Houston, along with two other players, for Roy Oswalt on Thursday.

Ruth, who plays multiple infield positions, was drafted in 2006 by the Padres and played as high as Triple A in their system. In 3 season of minor league ball with the Padres, Ruth posted a .277 batting average in 239 games.

DeRenne and Ruth are close friends, as the two are from the same state and train together in the off-season. The addition of Ruth could very well mark the first time that two Keoni's have played for the same professional team at the same time.

Keoni DeRenne told me, in an exclusive interview, that on Wednesday the director of Phillies minor league operations Steve Noworyta asked him about his pal Ruth, who was staying in shape back home in Hawaii, playing independent ball for Na Koa Ikaika. "Keoni is an outstanding guy, not only as a player, but as a person. You always want to have talented guys, but you also want a guy that's gonna be good for the team in the clubhouse," DeRenne said of Ruth. "I told Steve, I'd vouch for him for anything."

DeRenne, who played the 2009 season with the independent York Revolution can easily relate to Ruth's eagerness to join an affiliated club. "He's excited. I know he's hungry. Just like me before, he didn't know if he'd get another chance, so he's anxious to get here and play."

Ruth will be the second independent leaguer signed by the Phillies and sent directly to Lakewood this month, as 25-year-old righty pitcher Joe Esposito was playing for the Long Island Ducks prior to being picked up by the Phillies a couple weeks back.

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The is a re-post. Initially the article was removed from the site, at the request of the BlueClaws, until the transaction was official.

Click here to see The Scorpion King's brother interview Keoni Ruth for Hawaii TV.

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