Wednesday, January 7, 2004
The Return of the Me
Sorry to be absent for so long, I will try and pick up right where I left off though.
In the beginning of this past baseball season the Yankees won the rights to negotiate with pitcher Ramon Ramirez, formerly of the Hiroshima Carp. Here was the scouting report on him at the time, as provided by Jim Callis of Ask Baseball America fame, “Though the 21-year-old Ramirez is just 5-foot-10 and 178 pounds, he has been clocked as high as 94 mph. He usually works in the low 90s, and also throws a slider, curveball, shuuto (a reverse slider that sinks and breaks in on righthanders) and a changeup. Ramirez uses a three-quarters arm slot. ” Not too much of a ripple was caused by the signing of Ramirez in the prospect community and he was sent to the A+ Florida State League to begin his Yankee career, here is what he did:
Of the above numbers, the walks and K’s were good, a little more hits allowed than you would like, home run rate not as strong as you would like, but not that bad of a line for a 21 year old pitcher in High A. Of course, missing from all this was his ERA: 5.21 in 74.1 innings pitched. Because the peripherals and ERA do not add up to me in this case, I am not going to hold it against him, and this is an example of exactly why when analyzing pitching prospects I stray away from using their ERA. Anyway, the Yankees also apparently felt that Ramirez was pitching better than his record and sent him to the AA Eastern League, here is what he did there:
So after being promoted what did Ramirez do? Well, his hit rate took a significant dive, while his walks were up by about one every nine innings and his K’s went on a slight incline. His home run rate also rose by about one extra home run every eighteen innings. Overall, with all the increases and decreases I would say his performance in the Eastern League, a hitters league this past season, was equivalent or thereabouts to his performance in the FSL. You what his ERA was in his 21 and a third innings of AA ball? 1.69. So this time his ERA was better than his peripherals would have you believe, further strengthening my distrust of ERA as a method of evaluating pitchers, especially prospects. Well, after his short, but impressive stint in the Eastern League, the Yankees decided to promote Ramirez to the AAA International League here is what he did there:
Once again, there was a drop in the hit rate and increase in home run rate. However, the K rate went down as did the walk rate. This time his ERA was 4.5, compiled in a GRAND total of 6 innings. Therefore, I don’t really consider this to be much evidence in either a positive or negative direction for Ramirez as there are HUGE small sample size issues associated with his AAA performance, as opposed to the somewhat lesser small sample size issues associated with his AA performance. Well, by the end of the regular season the Yankees felt they wanted to give Ramirez another test, making sure they got their money’s worth I guess, and sent him to the Arizona Fall League, which is usually a hitters league. Here is what he did there:
Those stats are phenomenal as he showed improvement in his hit rate, walk rate, K rate, and HR rate despite playing in an offensive league as he posted a 1.44 ERA in 25 innings of work. Performance-wise he was one of, if not the, best pitcher(s) in the AFL, but somehow managed to get no recognition in Baseball America, but that is a story for another day. To evaluate Ramirez’s year on a whole, let’s put his line from A+, AA, AAA, and the AFL (considered to be about AA quality) together:
So in 126 innings, about 40% of which were in the upper minors, Ramirez demonstrated that he has excellent control (demonstrated by his walks), the ability to shut offenses down (demonstrated by his K’s and to a lesser extent hits allowed) and decent command (demonstrated by his home run rate). All of his peripherals combined with his age, 21 for the entire regular season, are encouraging signs for Ramirez as a prospect. The last question would be about his “stuff” and whether they seem good enough for a starter (3 quality pitches) or a reliever (1 or 2 great pitches). Well, judging by his earlier mentioned pitch selection (scroll up if you forgot it) I would say he has the stuff to be a starter. The only thing Ramirez has to do now is continue at his current rate and disprove the stigma of the short starting pitcher. If he can do this I see him as a good 4 or 5 starting pitcher on a championship ballclub. In fact, I think Ramirez is definitely a dark horse candidate for the number 5 spot in the Yankees rotation this year.
Sorry for the delay in updates, but I’m back in school and have been swamped by a combination of work and sport commitments. Once again, any questions, comments, or suggestions send them to email@example.com. And just a general reminder, Friday Baseball America will be having a chat session at 2 PM Eastern Standard Time to discuss the Yankees Top 10 Prospect list, make sure to go and ask some questions, their chats are a great resource.
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