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Know Your Prospects: Jose Ramirez, RHP, New York Yankees

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Jose Ramirez.

During my two-plus years of religious attendance at Charleston RiverDogs’ games, I don’t think I’ve seen a better product come through this system.

I wasn’t planning on going to tonight’s game against the Hickory Crawdads, the Ranger’s low-A affiliate, but when I saw Ramirez was the starter, I packed up the camera, the notebook, and my program and headed out to Joe P. Riley, Jr. Park. I was so intrigued by the sneaky-fast fastball and the it’ll-make-you-look-foolish changeup he displayed on April 26 that I had to find out if they were mere figments of my imagination or if this guy could possibly be the real deal.

And once again, Ramirez blew me away.

In six very, very strong innings, the 6’1″ righthander gave up just two hits. One of those hits, a first inning double by Hickory’s Cody Podraza, was all the Crawdad’s needed to secure the 1-0 victory.  Still, we all know wins and losses don’t mean everything.

Sitting at 80-83 miles per hour, Ramirez’s changeup is as advanced as any pitcher’s I’ve ever seen, at any minor league level. With his motion, you can’t tell the difference between his fastball, which ranges from from 89-93 and routinely touches 94, and his changeup. At this level, the batters are completely overpowered, overmatched, and overwhelmed.

He shows the ability to adeptly work both halves of the plate, popping fastballs in on hitter’s hands and stretching them out with changes on the lower half of the zone.

Ramirez’s curveball, which ranges from 79-84 and is an 1-to-7 offering, leaves a lot to be desired, but it has shown flashes of development. He threw it much more tonight than during Monday’s game against the Rome Braves, but he routinely left it up in the zone or down in the dirt. Still, it’s clear that it’s the pitch he’s working on. He never seemed to get a good feel for it tonight, but if he ever does, well…

What makes Ramirez so intriguing isn’t his great natural stuff, but the projection left in that stuff. He’s so tall (6’1″) and so thin (just 155 pounds), that it’s not improbable to believe he can add another 2-3 miles per hour to his heater as he ages.

Did I mention he’s not even 21 yet?

Ramirez’s free and easy motion makes me like him even more. There aren’t too many moving parts and it appears as though he’s made an unnatural movement as natural as possible. I’m no expert on pitching mechanics (that’s a direct shout out to you, Adam Foster, of Project Prospect), but if I had to wager a bet, I’d say his mechanics are as close to clean as you can get.

All of this means his stuff should play well at higher levels. And if I had to guess, I’d say he has two starts max, if they decide to promote him aggressively, at this level before he moves on to high-A Tampa. If he deals anywhere near as well as he has here in Charleston, he’ll be on the fast track to the upper levels of the minor leagues.

In 2009, Ramirez added the MLB.com Short-Season Pitcher of the Year award to his resume after going 6-0 with a 1.48 ERA and a paltry .159 batting average against. If they keep him with the RiverDogs for just a little bit more of the season, it’s easy to imagine him bolstering that resume.

This year, I’ve seen the Braves’ RHP Arodys Vizcaino in game action. Sure, it wasn’t the best game Vizcaino has ever pitched, but I didn’t see anything from him that would make me take him or rate him higher than Ramirez. When each pitcher develops and grows into their physique, I don’t think it’s at all preposterous to propose that Ramirez will have a better fastball, a better changeup, but a worse curve.

I really don’t think that Ramirez is having a good run or that he’s facing inferior competition; he’s just the latest of the Yankees’ international signees to breakout.

And that’s the true story of the game.

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15 Responses

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  1. Good job.

    Sean Serritella

    May 2, 2010 at 8:03 am

    • Thanks for the kind words. If there’s any other prospects you’d like me to do some research on from the Sally League, please let me know and I’ll be sure to attend a game or two and get some scouting done.

      dylansharek

      May 2, 2010 at 1:27 pm

      • Great job. Would be interested to see some video and your report on some other Yankee prospects in CHS. In particular:

        P – Graham Stoneburner
        P – Kelvin Perez
        OF – Zolio Almonte
        C – Kyle Higashioka

        FishJam

        May 5, 2010 at 3:04 pm

      • Exactly the type of comment I am looking for in this post. I would love it if all you Yankee’s fans gave me a guy to keep an eye on.

        FishJam, I’ll be more than glad to get some scouting reports up for these guys.

        Even though I’ve been to a bunch of Charleston games so far, I haven’t gotten a chance to see Stoneburner pitch. He’s K’ing a TON of guys through, so he’s something to get excited about. I’ll probably have something up for him when I finally see him pitch in the next two weeks or so.

        I’m not sure if I’ve seen Perez, but if I have, nothing stuck out. I’ll keep an eye out and post his daily game recaps soon.

        Zolio is a good looking player. I’ll write something up within the coming weeks, most likely when the team comes back home. If you’re interested in Zolio, you may be interested in Deangelo Mack. Like Stoneburner, he’s another native South Carolinian and I think he’s a little more advanced than Zolio at this point. He also displays some good pop.

        I’ve got a whole post coming on Higashioka. I admire him for being a pro, but the guy is completely overmatched, even at low-A ball. He’s honestly one of the most underwhelming players I’ve ever seen. He’s lost at the plate and he truly struggles with every pitch. It seems like he can’t hit curves, sliders, changeups or fastballs. And his throws to second are honestly like 75 mile per hour curveballs. There’s been times where he’s thrown to second and I’m thinking “Really? That’s it?”

        If you’re hoping for another Montero, Romine or Murphy, you’re in for a rude awakening. Unless something totally miraculous happens, this guy is a) either going to get cut this year, or b) head back to extended spring training.

        But once again, more on that later…

        Thank you for your comment.

        dylansharek

        May 5, 2010 at 5:55 pm

  2. Nice writeup, just one thing; Yanks A+ team is in Tampa. Trenton is AA

    pat

    May 2, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    • Thanks for checking out the site. And also, thanks for pointing out that slip.

      dylansharek

      May 2, 2010 at 6:06 pm

  3. […] at Blogging About Baseball, Dylan Sharek wrote up a nice piece about Jose Ramirez. He has some great photos and a video, which […]

  4. When you saw Vizcaino where was his FB ranging? Last year he was mostly 90-93 and topping out at 94-95.

    DBest

    May 3, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    • After pulling out my game notes from 4/26, I’ve got it down that Vizcaino sat at 91-93 miles per hour. Through those three innings that he pitched, he touched 94 multiple times and 95 just once. I should clarify that this was, by far, not Vizcaino’s best outing, but his stuff seemed almost exactly the same as previous game reports I’d read.

      The range you presented seems spot on. A little more info: his change sat almost exclusively at 80 and his curve came in at 75-78.

      dylansharek

      May 3, 2010 at 6:00 pm

      • Thanks a lot Dylan for that info. Really appreciate your work in the Sally and I’m sure I speak for many others like me.

        Sounds like sour grapes but I’m glad to hear Viz was more 91-93 when you saw him and not sitting 94-95 as I initially misinterpreted. As a Yankees fan I was absolutely in love with The Viz and when I saw him in Staten Isle he was throwing mostly 91-93 like you say, so if he all of a sudden started sitting 94-95 this year I would’ve started getting a little nauseous.

        Thankfully, the rise of Jose Ramirez began last year as well and when he’s on his got an electric FB and plus-plus changeup. That’s made it easier to stomach as I watch Javy Vazquez continue to spit the bit.

        Keep up the good work.

        DBest

        May 4, 2010 at 2:20 pm

  5. […] League site has some more info on Erik Olivo, who the Yankees signed for $300,000 last week, while Blogging About Baseball has a first-hand report from Jose Ramirez’s. Also, Mike Ashmore has a little Q&A with […]

  6. Hi Dylan –
    Yeah I was going to ask about Mack also but I didn’t want to overwhelm you by listing half the team to scout. lol

    That’s disappointing to hear about Higashioka but with our depth at catcher it’s bearable despite the big bonus he got.

    Perez’ numbers are very similar to Ramirez’ but he is also 5 yrs older so expectations are definitely tempered there.

    I’m most interested to hear about Stoneburner and Zolio. In addition to Jose Ramirez, I believe they are the best propspects we have down there given their ages.

    Is the SAL a big pitcher’s league or is generally even? Seems the RiverDogs starting pitchers are dominant with the exception of Sean Black.

    FishJam

    May 6, 2010 at 8:30 pm

    • Yeah, Higashioka really has looked awful through the first month. I’ll keep an eye out in the future though.

      It’s generally a pitcher’s league. A lot of the guys are so young that power hasn’t really developed. Sure, there’s a few guys that pace the league with homeruns, but there’s never any real huge power shows.

      dylansharek

      May 6, 2010 at 9:35 pm

  7. “Like Stoneburner, he’s (Mack) another native South Carolinian”

    Stoneburner is from Virginia who only went to school at Clemson.

    Also, Vizcaino was traded away in the Vazquez deal because he had a bad attitude AND Ramirez was a better pitcher. The Yankees like the change up more than the curve ball, and since Ramirez’ change was more advanced that Vizcaino’s, it was another reason they looked to trade Vizcaino.

    They can always teach the Nardi curve ball, and Ramirez seems to improve each game with it.

    I do agree that Higashioka is overmatched and does not have good approaches at the plate. He probably would have been better off going to Cal.

    Garrison Lassiter is another RiverDog player who probably should have gone to college (North Carolina)instead of signing a pro contract.

    But in both cases, the Yankee money was too tempting.

    One more thing, the Yankees have three guys: Stoneburner, Perez and Ramirez who need to be promoted to Tampa for a higher challenge, but their are just so many spots open – like maybe one.

    So with Stoneburner’s performance at Lakewood yesterday, he is the top candidate.

    thejobarules

    May 7, 2010 at 12:38 am

    • Thank you for pointing that out. I don’t know if I’ve ever had a post with so many little things screwed up. It’s only two, but that drives me nuts.

      I don’t know anything about the Vizcaino deal and why he was booted. He does seem to be a little more emotional on the mound than Ramirez, but I wouldn’t say he has a bad attitude. Here’s an interesting story about VIzcaino, however, that seems to support your theory: http://projectprospect.com/article/2010/03/14/scouting-the-braves-minor-league-camp

      And onto Higashioka. I really can’t wait to post about him, because he has to be the most underwhelming catcher I’ve seen play in the Sally in a good long while. When I get some video of him striking out on breaking balls and down-the-pipe heaters and throwing awfully slow bullets to second, I’ll get them up. Lassiter’s also having an awful season. His time with the team is probably up soon. He’s repeating low-A and not showing much progress at all. If anything, he’s regressed.

      I agree that Stoneburner is probably the first up. They’ll want to see if he can keep working and striking guys out at higher levels. I’m just hoping I get to see him pitch in at least one game before he gets the call.

      dylansharek

      May 7, 2010 at 8:08 pm


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