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Justin Ruggiano

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Justin Marshall Ruggiano

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Justin Ruggiano was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 24th round of the 2004 amateur draft. He was signed by scout Chris Smith and made his pro debut that summer.

Two months after his major league debut, Ruggiano was a star for Team USA in the 2007 Baseball World Cup. A late addition after Jay Bruce pulled out, Ruggiano hit .333/.432/.633. His three homers tied Yulieski Gourriel, Andy LaRoche, Chia-Hsian Hsieh and Mike Saunders for the tourney lead. He reached base all four times and homered in the US's lone loss, 6-2 to the Italian national team. He homered twice and drove in five in the win over the host Taiwan national team that clinched first place in Pool A for the USA. He was 3 for 4 with a RBI and had the most hits in the Gold Medal game as the US beat the Cuban national team, 6-3. It was the first time the US had ever beaten Cuba in the Gold Medal game of the Baseball World Cup. Ruggiano did not make the tourney All-Star team as teammate Colby Rasmus, Australian CF Trent Oeltjen and Cuban LF Frederich Cepeda were picked as the All-Star outfield.

Justin Ruggiano hit .325 in 39 games for the Oklahoma City 89ers at the beginning of the 2012 season. On May 26th, he was acquired by the Miami Marlins, who sent minor league catcher Jobduan Morales to the Houston Astros to obtain the outfielder. He was immediately added to the major league roster, with Kevin Mattison being sent down to the AAA New Orleans Pelicans to make room. The trade followed injuries to OFs Austin Kearns and Emilio Bonifacio, and the move of Logan Morrison to 1B following Gaby Sanchez’s demotion to New Orleans, leaving Miami short of fly chasers with big league experience. It was the break which Justin needed, as he played 91 games for Miami in 2012, hitting .313 with 13 homers and 36 RBIs. In 2013, he was the Marlins' starting centerfielder, playing 128 games. While his batting average fell to .222, his 18 doubles and as many homers made him the team's second power threat after RF Giancarlo Stanton. He scored 49 runs and drove in 50. After the season, however, the Marlins traded him to the Chicago Cubs on December 12th, in return for back-up OF Brian Bogusevic.

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