Join Jays From the Couch as we review the highlights and lowlights of Toronto Blue Jays top prospect Harold Ramirez’ 2017 season
Harold Ramirez came to the Blue Jays in the 2016 Trade Deadline which involved Francisco Liriano and Reese McGuire, and Ramirez for Drew Hutchison. The deal has evolved since then, as Toronto dealt Liriano to the Houston Astros during the 2017 Trade Deadline. The Blue Jays were able to turn Liriano into Teoscar Hernandez, meaning that Drew Hutchison netted the Blue Jays Reese McGuire, Harold Ramirez, and Teoscar Hernandez.
Not bad, for a pitcher no longer on a 40-man roster.
Back to Ramirez year in review.
Signed out of Colombia, the compact 5-foot-10 220 lbs outfielder continues to do just enough and show just enough glimpses of a major league talent to show up on Top Prospect lists. 2017 was no different. Ramirez set career highs in several categories but failed to improve enough in other areas to take a step forward in his development.
MLB Pipeline’s pre-season ranking of the 23-yr-old had him come in at 14. Thanks to strong drafting and the development of others in the system, Harold Ramirez’ stock has plummeted to 29th.
After suffering through an assortment of leg injuries during his first 5 professional seasons, Harold Ramirez managed to remain healthy in 2017. He played in 121 games for the Double-A Fisher Cats, showing the knee injury that landed him on the DL after just one game in the Toronto organization was fully healed.
Despite some pedestrian stats, Ramirez set career highs with 19 doubles, 6 home runs, 53 runs batted in, and 32 walks.
He had back-to-back games with 6 total bases on July 24th and 25th. After going 3-for-3 with an HR (3 runs shot), and 4 RBI on the 24th, Harold went 2-for-5 with 2 runs scored, a solo home run, and 2 RBI ground rule double on the 25th.
July was easily Harold Ramirez’ best month. He had 9 multi-hit games, batting .311 with 7 doubles, a pair of dingers, and 14 runs batted in.
In my opinion, the biggest lowlight for Ramirez in 2017 was his inability to show progression in his development.
After hitting .300 in Double-A in 2016 with 119 hits in 99 games. Ramirez managed to hit just .266 in 121 games, hitting mostly out of the 4th (31 GP), and 5th (79 GP) spot in New Hampshire’s line up.
Thanks to the aforementioned leg ailments, Ramirez is no longer considered a plus runner. Decreased speed coupled with a career-high 56.1% ground ball rate resulted in a career-high 14 GDP and a career-low 5 stolen bases.
Ramirez opened the season (.182 BA) and closed the season (.250 BA) with his two less productive months. If we throw away his awful April and his outstanding July, we get a clear picture of exactly what type of season Harold Ramirez had in 2017. He played 49 games in May and June where he batted .261 with 6 doubles, 3 HR, 23 RBI, and an OPS of .652.
While MLB Pipeline thinks that Harold Ramirez no longer projects as an everyday major league outfielder, I feel that assessment is a bit premature.
I think that Ramirez will have a much better 2018, simply because he is a year removed from the 2016 knee injury. Ramirez’s feel for hitting and pitch recognition has allowed him to make consistent contact while keeping K% low (13.3% in 2017).
The key to Ramirez’ success in 2018 will be another healthy season and being able to increase the number of balls hit in the ball in the air. Increasing his 25.5 FB% should result in a few more balls leaving the yard and more than 30 doubles. It’s possible the compact Ramirez will hit 10-15 HR with 30+ doubles for the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons next season.
With that said, I see him as a DFA candidate this offseason. The addition of Hernandez, the development of Anthony Alford, and presence of Dwight Smith Jr as Triple-A should allow the front office to gamble that another team won’t put in a claim.
We shall see.
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