Ruffnecks in Professional Baseball

There are many former Ruffnecks who have played professional baseball.  We have yet to have an alum in a regular season Major League game.  Nevertheless, two highly rated prospects are currently in Triple A.  On Thursday, March 21st, they faced each other in a Spring Training game… Mets vs. Marlins.  Isan Diaz is the first Ruffnecks alumnus to be on a Major League 40-Man Roster.  He was a 2nd round draft pick for the Arizona Diamondbacks out of Central High School in Springfield and on the strength of this Ruffnecks career.  His value as a young player is undisputed.  He was traded to Milwaukee and then from the Brewers to Miami in the deal that sent National League MVP, Christian Yelich from the Marlins to the Brewers.  Anytime a player is in a package for a future MVP, there is value!  Diaz played several years with the Ruffnecks and credits Coach Kirk Fredricks with kick-starting his ascent in baseball.  He would acknowledge that the “kick start” may have been a kick in the butt, but the talented Diaz appreciates the accountability that Fredericks delivered to his growth as a player.  Isan’s father, Raul Diaz, served the Ruffnecks program as the 13U coach in 2018, and all who came under his influence know why Isan has had good guidance and instruction.  We miss Coach Diaz.

Toffey, Coach Brickley, Diaz

In 2013, a young player named Will Toffey asked if he could join the Ruffnecks program.  He was a talented short stop (Isan’s position at the time) who had played against the Ruffnecks as a youngster.  Toffey’s older brother, John Toffey, is currently the Ruffnecks 17U “Senior” Head Coach, but at the time he was just a brother, serving as a coach at a New England prep school.  We informed Will that he was welcome to join the Ruffnecks, but we already had a short stop (Diaz).  If Will wanted to convert to 3B, we could make room.  It is a scenario that plays out often in our program… a program that does not field a “B” team, and remains loyal to its players who have worked hard to distinguish themselves.  Will Toffey willingly moved to 3B.  In the process he became a Ruffneck, through-and-through, putting himself behind the best interests of the TEAM.  The result was a scholarship offer to Vanderbilt University as a third baseman!  Toffey went on to start for Vandy, played in the College World Series, and had a stellar career.  Ironically, both Diaz and Toffey had offers to Vanderbilt, but Diaz signed out of high school (2nd round is understandable).  And… Toffey was never offered a baseball scholarship until AFTER the summer before his senior year in high school.  He was a multi-sport athlete (hockey and baseball) and was not on “baseball radars.”

Both Diaz and Toffey are among the top prospects to be the first Ruffnecks to get to the “Show.”  They are chased by another teammate, Paul Campbell (Clemson University), who came to the Ruffnecks as an infielder and became a pitcher, and now pitches in the Tampa Bay Rays system.  And while we rarely boast or speak about professional players (we are a college development program), we are pleased for these players’ success.  And for the young players in this program, all these prospects will tell you… They dreamed, but did not expect to be where they are.

Thursday, March 21st was a cool day for the Ruffnecks program when the Mets’ Will Toffey ran into the Marlins’ Isan Diaz.  Toffey’s brother and Ruffneck coach John Toffey, along with Coach John Brickley got to see the reunion.  We wish them the best!