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The Ramon Ramirez file: What you should know about the Sox' new reliever

Posted by Matt Porter, Globe Correspondent  November 19, 2008 01:28 PM

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The Red Sox have traded outfielder Coco Crisp to the Royals for pitcher Ramon Ramirez.

Who?

Our thoughts exactly. Here's what we were able to dig up about the 27-year-old reliever:

SCOUTING REPORT

Ramon Ramirez
(Getty Images Photo)

A summation of new Red Sox reliever Ramon Ramirez from a major league scout who watched him six times live this season (courtesy of Nick Cafardo):

"Throws 92-95 [mph] with a heavy, late-life fastball . . . Gets away with mistakes over the middle of the plate because his fastball has so much late life . . . second-best arm in that bullpen [to Joakim Soria] . . . Likes to challenge hitters . . . Definitely a setup man with potential to be a closer down the road . . . Plus fastball, plus slider, has a splitter or something that resembles a splitter . . . Average command . . . Deceptive delivery makes it hard for righthanded hitters to pick up his fastball . . . Hitters can't pick up his arm slot on the backside . . . Needs to tweak his off-speed pitches . . . Can throw his slider too hard . . . Very athletic. Fields his position well . . . Has an above-average 1.22 [second] release point [from the breaking of his hands to catchers mitt] on his slide step, 1.3 from the windup . . . Works fast."

Major league facts and figures

  • He made his major league debut on April 14, 2006 and didn't allow a run until May 15, setting a Rockies rookie record for scoreless relief innings to start a career (15 1/3). It was the longest such streak since 2001.
  • He posted a 2.92 ERA in the first half of the 2006 season before hitters figured him out. His July ERA was 6.23, and his second-half ERA was 4.11.
  • Despite the struggles, he set Colorado franchise marks for ERA (3.46) and strikeouts (61) by a rookie reliever. Opponents hit just .230 against him, second-best on the team behind closer Brian Fuentes (.209).
  • He struggled in spring training in 2007 and elbow problems limited him to 22 appearances (8.31 ERA, 1.55 WHIP).
  • Former Colorado teammate Jose Mesa took Ramirez under his wing in 2007.
  • He had issues last year with some former teammates, allegedly throwing at ex-Rockies batterymate Yorvit Torrealba.
  • After pitching in nine spring games in 2008 and posting a 1.42 ERA with 13 strikeouts and three walks in 12 2/3 innings, he was traded to the Royals for a player to be named later (Jorge De La Rosa).
  • He spent the entire 2008 season with the Royals, going 3-2 with one save and a 2.64 ERA as the bridge to closer Joakim Soria.
  • His 21 holds in 2008 ranked him seventh (tie) among American League relievers, and he was among AL relief leaders in innings (71 2/3 IP, 11th) and strikeouts (70 K, 13th).
  • His 71 appearances were the 10th-best in the AL and the 10th-highest total in Royals history.
  • Has struck out 146 hitters in 156 2/3 innings for his career.
  • Stats against the Red Sox: 3 innings in 3 appearances, 2 hits, 3 strikeouts, no runs allowed.
  • In his only appearance at Fenway (May 20, 2008) he faced the heart of the Red Sox order, and whiffed Dustin Pedroia, forced a David Ortiz tapper to first, and struck out Manny Ramirez swinging.
  • According to ESPN's Peter Gammons, he had the second-lowest home runs per innings pitched rate in the AL last year. He has allowed 9 home runs in his career.
  • He held righties to a .153 average, lowest in the AL and third-best in the majors among pitchers with at least 50 games. Only Chicago's Carlos Marmol (.103) and Philly's Brad Lidge (.105) were better.
  • Another key stat: In 2008, batters swung at 33.3 percent of his pitches outside the strike zone. Among AL relievers with more than 50 innings pitched, only Jonathan Papelbon (34.3 percent) and Mariano Rivera (36.3) had a better rate.
  • He is under Boston's control for at least two more seasons and is not arbitration eligible until 2011. He made $397,000 in 2008.

Before reaching the majors

  • The vitals: Born Aug. 31, 1981. He is 27 years old. Stands 5-foot-11, 190 pounds.
  • Born in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, the same birthplace of former Diamondbacks infielder Tony Batista.
  • The Rangers signed him as a 15-year-old free agent on Dec. 27, 1996, though Texas believed him to be 16.
  • He hit .245 in 39 games for the Rangers' Dominican Summer League squad in 1997. He failed to progress at the plate and was released on June 4, 98.
  • According to a story, he worked in a Coca-Cola bottling factory after the Rangers released him.
  • He spent the late 90s on the fringes of pro baseball, presumably learning how to pitch.
  • He joined the Hiroshima Carp Dominican Republic academy in 2000 and in 2002, pitched in two games for the Carp in Japan.
  • The Yankees picked him up via the posting system in Feb. 2003 for $300,050.
  • That year, he shot up the ranks, from the Single-A Tampa Yankees to Triple-A Columbus, going 3-10 with a 4.43 ERA in 20 games.
  • Baseball America ranked him the No. 5 pitcher in the Yankees' system for 2003.
  • In 2004, he was sent down to Double-A ball after going 0-3, 8.50 to start the year at Triple-A. With Double-A Trenton, he went 4-6, 4.62 in 18 starts. According to Baseball-Reference, he led the league in strikeouts per 9 innings ratio with 10.1 K/9 IP.
  • In 2005, Ramirez again struggled in Triple-A, going 1-3 with a 5.33 ERA in 6 games. He was demoted again, going 6-5 with a 3.84 ERA in 15 games for Trenton.
  • Just before the 2005 trade deadline, he was traded to Colorado with righthanded pitcher Eduardo Sierra for righthanded pitcher Shawn Chacon.
  • Ramirez was assigned to Double-A Tulsa and went 2-1 with a 5.33 ERA in 9 games.

Information from Globe and Boston.com Staff, MLB.com, the Red Sox' public relations department, The Denver Post, Baseball-Reference.com and other sources were used in this report.

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