The Toronto Blue Jays called up Carlos Ramirez and he could be pitching his way into the 2018 bullpen discussion
The Toronto Blue Jays may have a gem in Carlos Ramirez. They called him up this September after a rather successful minor league campaign that saw him span 3 levels of the organization and he’s been rather impressive in his short stint thus far. He very well could be pitching his way into the 2018 bullpen conversation.
The 26 year old former outfielder may have found his niche in this game. He started 2017 in AA New Hampshire and threw 23.2 innings over 18 games. Over that span, he gave up 10 hits, 7 walks and struck out 29 for a WHIP of 0.718. He would earn a promotion to Buffalo where he saw action in 7 games for 14 innings. He struck out 16 over those 14 frames. His WHIP decreased to 0.643.
In May of 2015, Brian Crawford of JaysPrsopects.com wrote about the transition Ramirez would go through to transition from an outfielder to a pitcher. The interesting part is that Ramirez had never pitched before. He learned his fastball and slider in a month. Over a year later, Jay Blue of Blue Jays From Away wrote that Ramirez was hitting 94-95 mph with his fastball and showing signs of being effective in Dunedin. And then, just this summer, our own Ryan Mueller continued following Ramirez’ journey into this season, which saw the Domincan hurler hit the DL, but still manage to use that fastball/slider combo nicely.
That journey has led him to the bullpen in Toronto, an accomplishment he may never have realized had he stuck to the outfield. Instead, he made it to the big leagues and was able to record hsi first major league strike out: a 10th inning beauty in Baltimore.
In his admittedly small sample size of 8 innings, Ramirez has struck out 7 batters, walked one, hit one and given up one hit. He has left 100% of runners on base, which is obvious by the fact that he still has not given up an earned run, a streak that has started back in AA. Again, small sample size provides context, but his 26.9% K% is too good to ignore. If there is a concern, it is his 52.9% FB%, but he’s not giving up much hard contact. Fangraphs pegs his fastball and slider values at 3.4 wFB and 2.3 wSL, which is rather impressive. HE’s put up 0.3 fWAR and 0.6 bWAR in his short time in Toronto.
We know that this year’s bullpen could have used the shot in the arm that Ramirez has provided. Looking ahead to next year, it will be interesting to see if the club feels that he’s earned consideration to pick up where he left off. Ryan Tepera has emerged as a solid option for next year, as has Danny Barnes. Roberto Osuna, despite his blown saves will anchor the ‘pen. After that, arbitration, etc will decide how the bullpen takes shape.
Last offseason, we saw the Blue Jays bring in Joe Smith and J.P. Howell. But, what is clear this time around is that there may just be some younger options available for the club to turn to. For example, Tim Mayza has earned himself a look. We know that this organization does not rush into bullpen decisions. That might be more true this year with guys like Mayza and Ramirez waiting in the wings.
Likely, the front office won’t feel too comfortable depending on young arms in a year that they expect to compete. It is one thing to have young guys come up and win jobs, but to rely on them to do so is not exactly smart. We should also consider that a few innings in September do not exactly win you a job for the next season. Despite some people getting excited about Richard Urena and his September showing, we can’t expect that he’ll be starting in Toronto in 2018. Now, Ramirez could be a different case since his path is less crowded than a middle infielder.
Ramirez certainly has impressed this season. He very well could have impressed this team enough for them to give him an opportunity in Spring Training. If 2017 is any indication, he just might primed to be a solid bullpen piece in 2018.
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