Ramos Closing On Big Leagues

Righty adjusts to bullpen role





JUPITER, FLA.—Righthander A.J. Ramos instantly realized things would be different in pro ball. Not only were things different than they were at Texas Tech, but he also had to adjust to no longer being a starter.

"When you're starting, you can fiddle around with what you've got and see what you have that day," Ramos said.

He tried that in his 2009 pro debut and watched a fastball get hit off the wall. Ramos, a 21st-round draft pick that June, has since adjusted to the role. All 123 of his career appearances, including 49 for high Class A Jupiter in 2011, have been in relief. That trend won't change after he recorded 53 saves over the past two seasons.

Playing on a last-place team, Ramos totaled 25 saves last season, third-most in the Florida State League. More impressive was his 1.11 WHIP and 71 strikeouts in 51 innings. In addition, Ramos trimmed his walks per nine innings from 4.9 in 2010 at low Class A Greensboro to 3.4 last year.

"The year before I was striking out a lot of people but there were a lot of walks," Ramos said. "A lot of times I was throwing a miss-me breaking ball instead of throwing it for contact. It's funny, you try throwing it for contact and they start missing it. You try to make them miss it and it's in the dirt and they don't swing."

Ramos, 25, also saw his fastball command improve. His four-seamer always had natural cut, but he experimented with the grip to enhance movement. That pitch sits at 88-91 mph and is especially tough on lefties, who Ramos said don't see it as well as his slider. He'll also feed lefties a steady diet of sinkers.

"I was just throwing it," Ramos said of his fastball, which topped out at 96 mph last season. "I wasn't putting it in a spot. I was just trying to throw it by people. Now I'm trying to hit a spot."

FISH BITES

• Righthander Ramon Benjamin had season-ending shoulder surgery. Between Jupiter and Double-A Jacksonville last year, he went a combined 7-3, 3.75 with 31 walks and 53 strikeouts in 43 appearances covering 62 innings.

• After watching top prospect Christian Yelich go 2-for-3 with a game-tying RBI in the Marlins' 7-6 win over the University of Miami, manager Ozzie Guillen said,  "That kid's got a chance. He's got a good swing. He takes his at-bats very well."