Prospect Profile: Jose Ramirez

Thoughts following the Masahiro Tanaka signing
Yankees still have more work to do even after landing Tanaka
Changeup! (Presswire)
Changeup! (Presswire)

Jose Ramirez | RHP

Ramirez is from the relatively small town of Yaguate, which is Michael Pineda‘s hometown and roughly 30 miles outside San Cristobal in the Dominican Republic. The Yankees signed him as a 17-year-old in 2007 to an unknown but small bonus. The size of the bonus wouldn’t be unknown if it was anything substantial. He was a low-profile signing.

Pro Career
The Yankees kept Ramirez in the Dominican Summer League for his first pro season in 2008. He managed a 4.15 ERA (3.25 FIP) in 39 innings while walking 18 and striking out 39. The club brought Ramirez stateside in 2009 and he pitched to a 1.41 ERA (3.07 FIP) in 64 innings for their Rookie Gulf Coast League affiliate. He struck out 55 and walked 16, and even made a one appearance cameo with High-A Tampa.

Assigned to Low-A Charleston to begin the 2010 season, Ramirez posted a 3.60 ERA (3.04 FIP) with 105 strikeouts and 42 walks in 115 innings before being shut down due to shoulder fatigue in August. He simply ran out of gas. The Yankees moved him up to High-A Tampa to open 2011 but that was a disaster (8.14 ERA and 4.23 FIP in 24.1 innings), so he returned to Charleston for the remainder of the season. Ramirez had a 4.78 ERA (4.17 FIP) with 74 strikeouts and 32 walks in 79 innings in his second tour of duty with the River Dogs and was again shut down in August, this time with an elbow/forearm problem.

The Yankees sent Ramirez back to Tampa to start 2012 and he excelled: 3.19 ERA (3.28 FIP) with 94 strikeouts and 30 walks in 98.2 innings. He once again had some injury problems, this time a lat strain that sidelined him for a little more than a month. The Yankees added him to the 40-man roster after the season to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft even though he’d never pitched above Single-A ball.

Ramirez opened last season on the DL due to shoulder fatigue after pushing himself a little too hard during his first big league camp (six runs in 9.1 innings). He joined Double-A Trenton in late-April and was electric, pitching to a 2.76 ERA (4.26 FIP) in 42.1 innings before being agressively promoted to Triple-A Scranton, where he had a 4.88 ERA (5.05 FIP) in 31.1 innings. All told, he struck out 78 and walked 36 in 73.2 innings. His season ended in late-July due to an oblique problem.

Scouting Report
Tall and lean at 6-foot-3 and 190 lbs., Ramirez has arguably the best and most refined power stuff in the system. His fastball is lively, running in on right-handers at 92-94 mph while touching 97-98 regularly. A post-signing growth spurt and improved mechanics led to a significant increase in velocity a few years ago. He would have been a much higher profile amateur player back in the day if he had that heater.

A low-80s slider was his top secondary pitch when he signed, but Ramirez has since added a hard upper-80s changeup that fades down and away from lefties and rates as one of the best individual offspeed pitches in the system. Here’s the obligatory changeup .GIF:

The slider now sits in the mid-80s and is inconsistent, but it’s still a usable third pitch. The Yankees tried to teach Ramirez a curveball once upon a time but it didn’t take because of his low three-quarters arm slot.

Injuries have obviously been a career-long problem, especially all the arm issues. Rather than progressively increase with age, Ramirez’s innings totals have declined in recent years, from 115 in 2010 to 103.1 in 2011 to 98.2 in 2012 to 73.2 in 2013. He has yet to make it through a full, healthy season as a starter and he may wind up in the bullpen long-term because of it. Ramirez’s delivery is a little herky jerky but nothing crazy, and his command will never be his strong suit. He’s a stuff first guy, no doubt.


That video is from Spring Training last year. There are some more feature clips at as well as a bunch of video on YouTube and You’ll have to sort through some clips of Indians’ infield prospect Jose Ramirez at the latter.

2014 Outlook
Given the state of the pitching staff, Ramirez figures to get a long look in Spring Training and could win a big league bullpen job. If not, he’ll return to Triple-A Scranton. Chances are he will make his big league debut at some point this coming season.

My Take
I really like Ramirez — I’m a sucker for power stuff, especially power right-handed changeups — but I think it might be time to move him to the bullpen. He’s been starting for six years now and has been unable to hold up physically. Stick him in the bullpen and tell him to turn it loose before he blows something out and you don’t get anything from him. Ramirez is one of the few prospects who could legitimately have an impact at the big league level this year and I’m interested to see if he gets a serious opportunity to win a bullpen job in camp. I’m a fan but I can’t help but feel like there are only so many pitches in that arm.

Thoughts following the Masahiro Tanaka signing
Yankees still have more work to do even after landing Tanaka
  • Jorge Steinbrenner

    I’m a big fan, if only because I love me some young kids who come up in ST and make big leaguers look like fools (and aren’t Chase Wright.)

    I think he’s a bullpen sleeper this season and a very real potential piece moving forward.

    • I’m One

      Yeah if he looks good in ST, give a few shots in low-leverage situations and progressively move him up th pecking order if he does well. He’s got good stuff for a reliever role. Hopefully he’ll do well for at least a few years

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        Hopefully he recovers just fine from TJS in 2017.

    • MB923

      Speaking of bullpen, you can count Grant Balfour out. Tampa just signed him.

      • trr


      • FLYER7

        Was the Rays big press conference?

      • BamBamMusings

        He turned down a better contract offer from the Mets to sign with TB. Likely so he can stick it to Bal 18 times next year.

        • Jorge Steinbrenner

          My college ex was from Baltimore. I used to stick….ah, never mind.

  • JR Spliff

    Rosenthal reporting Balfour signing with the Rays.


    • MB923

      Yep. And 2 minutes later, the Brewers are about to sign Garza (not that it matters much to the Yanks now that they got Tanaka, just pointing it out though)

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        Them dominoes be fallin’ quick.

  • Jorge Steinbrenner

    Curious as to the Balfour numbers. That should tell us as to what the Yanks’ real interest in him was.

    Interesting name also just popped up on MLBTR in Bryan LaHair, just released from his Japanese team. On an MiLB, he may be your ideal Tex insurance.

    • David McCann

      No to Bryan LaHair. He had half a season and has been bad ever since.

    • Cool Lester Smooth

      I mean, there’s a reason he just got cut from his Japanese team.

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        I didn’t see the Japan numbers. Not good.

        Still would take an MiLB flyer. Nothing to lose.

    • Cuso

      2 years/$12M it looks like

    • JonS

      “just released from his Japanese team”


      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        That alone wouldn’t be the reason. Player could have asked for his release in order to play in the US.

        lol right back atcha.

  • Bryan

    I don’t mind him being in the bullpen now. But I would hope the Yankees try to keep him as a starter in the long-term. His stuff is very good and he would make a real good mid rotation type pitcher. And even if he were to only be a mid or back rotation pitcher, his worth would be much higher than that of a lowly reliever.

  • vicki

    poise, attitude and stuff. i heart him.

  • hey now

    Is there anything better than a well-placed righty changeup to a lefty hitter? It’s sitting there screaming, “Hit me!” Then the bottom drops out. They really have no chance.

  • Wayne

    Hope we don’ t abuse this guy like we did joba by starting him in the bullpen this year then expecting him to start three months later when he has not built the arm strength up. Then every fan will be making excuses ” oh he had injury problems to begin with that is why he got hurt oh that’s why! This could be your next “mo” man don’t screw this kid up! I would rather them keep him in the rotation in the minors this year and if its no sooner than August put him in the bullpen. I also think he and Rafael Depaula are your future setup man and closer. You have VidalNuno , and David Phelps compete for rotation spot and you will have a look at Bryan Mitchell and Shane Greene and possibly compete for a rotation spot this and next spring training! Would not trade any of this guys at this point!