By Sheldon Ocker
Beacon Journal sports writer
DETROIT: Jose Ramirez said he was a little surprised to be called up from Akron to join the Indians in September.
But you could tell even though he needs a translator that Ramirez wasn’t astonished to find himself in the visitors’ clubhouse at Comerica Park as the fourth-youngest player in the majors, 16 days shy of his 21st birthday.
Ramirez played 54 games at second base, 50 at shortstop and eight at third base for the Aeros, batting .272 with 78 runs and 38 stolen bases in 54 attempts.
“I like the fast game, being high energy and scoring runs,’’ he said, while Louis Ortiz translated. Ortiz is the Tribe’s cultural coordinator and lower level hitting coordinator, who is helping the big-league coaching staff this month.
Ramirez is another of the middle infield prospects sprinkled throughout the Tribe farm system, joining Francisco Lindor, Ronnie Rodriguez, Joe Wendle and Dorssys Paulino. There are so many promising shortstops and second basemen that Tony Wolters was converted to catcher.
Even before the season began, the Indians had identified Ramirez as a player on the rise. He was brought over from the minor league camp to occasionally play in major-league exhibition games.
“I liked the way he handled himself,’’ manager Terry Francona said. “He put up quality at-bats, and he carried himself well. It didn’t look like the game was moving too fast for him. There were a lot of things to be impressed about.’’
How badly does the Tribe need a middle infielder down the stretch? It wasn’t vital that a minor-leaguer be summoned to help out. But that doesn’t mean Ramirez won’t play.
“We wouldn’t call a guy up and not play him,’’ Francona said. “He probably has exceeded where he should be for his age.’’
Ramirez played winter ball in the Dominican Republic in 2012 and, according to Ortiz, he was leading the league in hitting until the last week of the schedule, when he dropped to second place.
When Ramirez was a kid growing up in the Dominican, his favorite player was Jose Reyes, which is no surprise for a player whose favorite position is shortstop.
The quality of play in winter ball is challenging for a 19-year-old, but so is stealing home in a Double-A game. Ramirez did that recently for Akron against Reading.
What’s the hardest thing about stealing a base?
“I don’t look at it as being difficult,’’ Ramirez said. “I’m not afraid.’’