Prospect Profile: Jose Ramirez
Drafted: RHP; Taken as an IFA out of Yaguate, Dominican Republic, June 10th 2007 bonus unknown
Height: 6’1″ Weight: 155 (no updates that i’ve seen on his stat pages but it looks as if he’s filled out a bit)
Many fans will remember Jose Ramirez as the guy who we “should have traded” back in 2009; instead we sent Arodys Vizcaino off to Atlanta for Javier Vasquez v2.0. Of course Vizcaino continued on the path to becoming a legit ML pitcher and Ramirez took a step back in his development while the angry villagers were out in full force, torches and pitchforks in hand. Over the following two seasons the tides didn’t just turn, they did a total 180. Vizcaino was moved to the pen for an August callup in 2011 and threw straight gas and aside from a 5ER outing he was quite stellar. Hopes were high coming into 2012 when it was learned that a previously torn UCL had finally given in and an appointment was scheduled with Dr. Andrews. Meanwhile, Ramirez was busy finding a breaking pitch he could get get a feel for and showed up in instructs in the fall of 2011 hitting triple digits and sporting a shiny new slider. He stumbled a bit out of the gate this year but righted the ship and had a succesful campaign. Let’s take a closer look…
Ramirez broke out onto the U.S. scene after pitching in the Dominican to roast the GCL League in 2009. He posted a 1.41 ERA while striking out 55 and walking 16 in 61 innings. That’s good for a 7.7 K/9, 2.2 BB/9, .781 WHIP and a .156 BAA. He then got a sip of coffee in Tampa to cap off the year with three scoreless innings. Smokin’. 2010 was rolling along as he posted a 3.6 ERA/3.04 FIP and solid peripherals; 8.2 K/9 3.3 BB/9, .239 BAA despite an injury setback. In 2011 the wheels came off as he couldn’t stay on the field for the duration, limited to 103.1 innings. His ERA/FIP rose to 5.66/4.2 along with a 1.568 WHIP, a rising BB rate and .292 BAA. Injuries weren’t his only concern however. While he sported two very good offerings, his breaking pitch left a lot to be desired. He toyed with a slurve and then sported a 1-7 curve, neither of which he could consistently find a feel for. Late in 2011 he began working on a slider which he brought to camp with him in 2012 and turned some heads. 2012 brought great things for the struggling pitcher; his ERA/FIP splits fell to 3.19/3.28, while his peripherals improved as well. His K rate stayed the same as 2011 but he walked a batter less per 9, shaved 332 points off his WHIP and got his BAA down to .239. This all with a shaky start to the year where he allowed 18ER in the first five games and 26IP. The highlight of his season came when he and fellow Tampa pitcher Branden Pinder combined for a 7 inning no hitter where Jose struck out 7 over 6 innings and walked one. His pitch count kept him from finishing what he started but a great start none-the-less. He was also the first Tampa pitcher to hit double digit K’s on the year. All in all a big step forward, and we’ll be looking for more as he enters his age 23 season.
Fastball: He’s got a serious power arm. His FB sits in the mid 90′s with late breaking action that he can command to both sides of the plate. He’s not afraid to bust hitters inside with it, inducing some weak pop-ups and roll-over grounders. He was reportedly running it up to 100 during instructs and got it up there again later this year as confirmed on the twitter-verse as “the first legit 100″ that an attending scout had seen in Tampa. In short, the kid has a big-time FB that is easily a plus pitch.
Changeup: With as good as his fastball is, the change might be even better. Yes…better. He runs it in the mid 80′s and the deception to it is ridiculous. Coming out of his hand batters have no choice but to suspect it’s the heat until they find themselves way ahead of it. The pitch has nice depth and fade to it, he can command it quite well and is not afraid to unleash it in any count. Reports are that his power change rivals Manny Banuelos as the best in the system. That’s says a lot. It’s a plus offering that flashes plus-plus. Deadly.
Slider: Here’s what could possibly bring him to another level. He’s struggled to settle on a breaking pitch over the years, and if he can command the slider the sky is the limit. It’s a legit swing and miss pitch when it’s on and gives him a real weapon to attack right handed hitters with. He gets it up around 85-88 and when he’s on he can throw it for strikes or run it off the plate. It is anywhere from an average to above average pitch that shows plus potential and will be the difference between being a starter and reliever.
After some ups and downs Ramirez looks as if he can make a charge at the upper levels. While he’s listed at 155 the videos that i’ve seen looks as if he’s packed on a few pounds to his svelte frame. With command of two plus to plus-plus pitches his floor is that of a solid reliever. Add in a solid breaking ball and we’re talking a ceiling of a #2 in an elite rotation. He has a free and easy motion with not too many moving parts and a strong finish to his delivery. He has good command and will throw his best two offerings in any count. He’s still a couple years away and has time to continue to develop his slider but right now he’s getting himself back on track and on the move. He’s been talked up by the likes of John Sickels and Kiley McDaniel as well as making Baseball America’s helium list. Barring any injury/developmental setbacks we could see him knocking on the ML door as early as 2015, and joining the likes of some of our other power arms such as Campos, Henseley and DePaula in a bid for a shot at the rotation in the Bronx. Since falling from grace Ramirez is getting himself back on the radar of the prospect watchers; he should be on yours too.
Here’s a couple of viddy’s of Jose fanning some batters; you might recognize these guys: