Mariners Excited About Ramirez's Potential





PEORIA, Ariz. — When it's time to talk about Seattle's young pitchers this spring, the conversation inevitably turns to Danny Hultzen, James Paxton and Taijuan Walker.

Erasmo Ramirez? Not so much.

But the righthander may be as close to the big leagues as any of them, or even closer. The 21-year-old from Nicaragua pitched at Triple-A Tacoma last year (3-2, 5.10) and had a nice winter with Lara in Venezuela (2-1, 1.48).

"Publicity is one thing, and a lot of the time when people talk about our young pitching, they talk about Hultzen, Paxton and Walker," general manager Jack Zduriencik said. "But when I talk about our young pitching, I always talk about Erasmo.

"I don't see it as him flying under the radar, because we have always liked him."
Ramirez allowed just 32 walks in 153 innings between Double-A and Triple-A last year. With Lara this winter, he gave up one walk over 30 innings.

"It looks like he is fearless," farm director Chris Gwynn said. "He will go after a hitter, and he knows that getting ahead of hitters is paramount for a pitcher. He's figured that out, that's for sure."Small wonder then, that when he arrived in Peoria, he opened eyes with his version of pinpoint control.

"He's a pretty complete pitcher right now," Zduriencik said. "He throws strikes, he has a good arm and he's mature."

Ramirez, 21, hits 94 mph with his fastball and comes complete with a curve and a changeup. He's working this spring on a cut fastball.

And he has learned that not every pitch has to be a strike. Lance Painter, the pitching coach at Double-A Jackson, took time in the middle of the 2011 season having Ramirez work on throwing pitches in the dirt, just so hitters wouldn't be able to get too comfortable with him 0-2 or 1-2.

The Mariners don't have to rush him, because after Felix Hernandez, Jason Vargas and Hisashi Iwakuma, they have holdover starters Blake Beavan and Charlie Furbush, Hector Noesi from the Michael Pineda trade, and veteran Kevin Millwood to pick from to start the season in addition to the other three young guns.

MARINADE

• Outfielder Trayvon Robinson, who had vision troubles last year while wearing contact lenses, is wearing glasses this spring and says his vision is better.

• Third baseman Alex Liddi will get some work at first base this spring.