Amid the burgeoning crop of impressive young middle infielders being carefully cultivated in the Indians’ minor-league system, it’s easy to see how second baseman Jose Ramirez has been overshadowed by a bevy of slick-fielding and solid-hitting shortstops.
With so much attention paid to the group of young shortstops led by Francisco Lindor, Dorssys Paulino and Ronny Rodriguez, often lost in the shuffle of the Tribe’s standout middle-infield prospects has been the Aeros’ 5-foot-9, 165-pound, switch-hitting second baseman.
A shortstop by trade who moved to second base after Lindor became the Indians’ first-round pick (eighth overall) in the 2011 draft, Ramirez was signed by the Indians as a non-drafted free agent out of Bani, Dominican Republic, in November 2009.
Although undersized, Ramirez’s athleticism allowed him to quickly overcome the position change as he’s shot through the lower levels of the Tribe’s farm system.
Baseball America ranked him as the Tribe’s 23rd-best prospect entering the season, while MLB.com ranked him ninth.
Even though he doesn’t turn 21 until September and skipped the high Class-A level all together, he’s holding his own with his older teammates at Double-A Akron.
Through 27 games Ramirez is batting .264 with a double, triple, home run, 10 RBI and is second on the team with 21 runs scored.
“Ramirez has been swinging the bat very well, even in spring training,” Aeros manager Edwin Rodriguez said. “I think that’s what we’re going to see out of him this year — he’s a good hitter who will get on base and make things happen for us.”
In his first experience at the prospect-laden Double-A level, Ramirez needed little time to adjust as he opened the season with a six-game hitting streak. Although he slowed down from the torrid pace, he’s also shown he’s capable of having occasional pop in his bat when he socked a tie-breaking solo home run in the Aeros’ 7-5 victory over the host Binghamton Mets for his first Double-A homer April 28.
In addition to showing a mature approach to hitting that includes savvy plate discipline (over that same span Ramirez worked 10 walks and struck out just 12 times), he’s provided speed on the bases (an Eastern League-leading 11 stolen bases in 13 tries) and been solid in the field, showing good range and arm strength.
“He puts good at-bats together and has tremendous bat-to-ball ability,” Akron hitting coach Jim Rickon said. “He’s a patient hitter. He waits for good pitches to hit, and when he gets them, he puts a good swing on them. He doesn’t try to do too much. He knows who he is as a player and how he fits on the team and he helps you win with what he brings to the table.”
Last season as a 19-year-old, Ramirez combined to hit .354 and owned a .993 fielding percentage in 70 games between short-season Mahoning Valley and low Class-A Lake County. The previous year — his first as a professional — Ramirez led all Indians minor-leaguers with a .325 batting average while playing with the rookie-level Arizona League Indians.
Stephanie Storm can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Aeros blog at http://www.ohio.com/aeros. Follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SStormABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.