The Toronto Blue Jays have outfield depth in AAA, which makes the 2018 season an interesting one for Harold Ramirez
The Toronto Blue Jays have quite a collection of outfielders in the upper level of their system. In fact, there are so many, they will have a fun time trying to figure out what to do with all of them. Recently, our Ryan Mueller wrote that the hamstring injury to Anthony Alford means that someone else will have to step up among the group of Roemon Fields, Dwight Smith Jr, Dalton Pompey and Teoscar Hernandez. And, on the outside of this conversation is the 23 year old Columbian, Harold Ramirez.
Mueller wrote: “I would like to see how Harold Ramirez would handle Triple-A. He just looked bored last season in AA. Challenging him with a promotion may light a fire under his you know where. If he fails, return him to Double-A and maybe re-evaluate his position on the organizational depth chart.”
I find Harold Ramirez an interesting story, one that I’m going to pay close attention to this coming season. Since coming to Toronto in the Drew Hutchison for Francisco Liriano deal as arguably the smaller piece in a deal that also landed the Blue Jays catcher, Reese McGuire, Ramirez has seen his value take a bit of a hit. At the time, Ramirez was Pittsburgh’s 9th best prospect and came with the following description from MLBTR: “The 21-year-old Ramirez was batting .306/.354/.401 for Double-A Altoona. He has a stocky build and hasn’t yet developed much home-run power, but is relatively close to the Majors at a young age and has always hit well for average.”
That was back in the summer of 2016. Being “relatively close to the Majors” is reason to get excited. But, here we are heading into the 2018 season and the excitement over Ramirez has stalled some.
|AA (||AA (||AA (||Minors||220||908||106||237||36||8||103||12||54||131||.287||.338||.381||.719|
We should acknowledge that injury has played a significant role in Ramirez’ past couple of seasons. But, when healthy, he hasn’t shown much to get excited about. In fact, back in November, the Blue Jays removed him from the 40 man roster. At the time, Eno Sarris of Fangraphs had a rather brutally honest commentary on Ramirez that doesn’t paint a decent picture. Basically, Ramirez used to be able to make contact and use his speed to help his team out. Now, thanks to knee injuries and his development being stalled, there is doubt that he will be able to make the big leagues. He needs to show more power, fewer ground balls and an ability to play defense. Never thought to be a center fielder, there is doubt that his stocky frame and decreased speed.
For this reason, one can be forgiven for losing track of Harold Ramirez over the last year. His final line for 2017 wasn’t terrible: .266/.320/.678 but the 6 HR and 19 2B show the lack of power that will hold him back. He does show an ability to avoid striking out (13.3% in 2017), but singles and groundouts make up the bulk of his contact. That will not help him progress within the organization.
With so many options ahead of him and his skill set seemingly limited, it is not clear just how far Ramirez will advance. With an improved approach at the plate, maybe he can adjust to the point where he can put the ball in the air. 2018 will go a long way to deciding the future of the 23 yr old. While he is still young, I would argue against Mueller and say that Ramirez hasn’t really earned a promotion, especially when there are other options ahead of him. Now, if those options start to thin out due to injury or promotion, then maybe giving him a shot at AAA is in order.
That said, it is widely thought that AA is more of an indicator of future success than AAA. Harold Ramirez hasn’t really shown that top prospect talent at that level. I’ll be watching this season to see if he can regain that sheen.
*Featured Image Credit: JFtC
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