- Full name Hanley Ramirez
- Born 12/23/1983 in Samana, Dominican Republic
- Profile Ht.: 6'2" / Wt.: 235 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School Adbentista
- Debut 09/20/2005
Organization Prospect Rankings
Since reaching full-season ball in 2003, Ramirez has not had a breakout year to match his considerable tools. There was no comparable shortstop on the trade market this offseason, though, and he became the key for Florida in the Josh Beckett trade with Boston. Ramirez has the bat speed, raw power and pitch recognition to hit .300 with 20-plus homers a season. He's aggressive at the plate but doesn't strike out a lot because he easily makes contact. Thanks to his strong wrists, the ball jumps off his bat to all fields. The missing ingredient for Ramirez may be a lack of focus and preparation. He has matured since a few behavioral incidents early in his career, but he needs to develop a game plan at the plate and attach importance to each at-bat. The rest of his game is coming together nicely. He has plus speed, his arm rates a 70 on the 20-80 scouting scale, and his hands and range are above-average as well. He has become much more consistent in the field, cutting his errors to a career-low 19 last year. Ramirez could use more seasoning at Triple-A Albuquerque, but the Marlins need a shortstop and will give him a look in spring training.
Ramirez fell and injured his left wrist while running the bases on May 1. After sitting out a game with what initially was diagnosed as a sprain, Ramirez tried to play through the pain. He had six hits in four games before sliding into a 2-for-23 slump. Another examination revealed a hairline fracture that sidelined him for seven weeks. Once he was fully healthy, he took off. Ramirez batted .354 the rest of the way at high Class A Sarasota, where Florida State League managers rated him the circuit's best defensive shortstop and best infield arm. Following a promotion to Double-A Portland, he hit .310 with power and made just three errors in 32 games. The Red Sox named him their FSL player of the year, the third time in four pro seasons that Ramirez has won a team MVP award. Shortstop has become a position of strength in the organization, yet Ramirez' five-tool package easily stands out among a crop that also includes Dustin Pedroia, Luis Soto, Christian Lara and Kenny Perez. He's the best athlete in the system with the potential to excel in all aspects of the game. A career .313 hitter, he has quick hands and a short stroke, allowing him to catch up to any fastball. He also excels at pitch recognition, so breaking pitches don't fool him. Ramirez signed as a switch-hitter but was so advanced from the right side that the Red Sox told him not to bother batting lefthanded. He also has plus raw power that started to show up in games after he reached Double-A. He can drive the ball out to all fields, and his home run totals would be higher if he didn't focus so much on hitting the ball up the middle, an approach Boston preaches at the lower levels of the minors. In addition to his offensive skills, Ramirez also has the most speed, best infield skills and strongest infield arm among Red Sox farmhands. After making 36 errors in 2003, he played more under control and cut his miscues to 20. Coming into the 2004 season, Ramirez hadn't done a good job of handling the hype he started receiving after he was rated the No. 1 prospect in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast and short-season New-York Penn leagues in 2002. He was sent home from instructional league that fall for cursing at a trainer, and suspended in 2003 for making an obscene gesture to fans. But Ramirez matured and didn't have any behavioral problems in 2004. He's a hard worker, but his biggest need at this point is to improve his day-to-day preparation. When he's fully focused, he's usually the best player on the diamond. Ramirez doesn't draw as many walks as the Red Sox would hope, in part because he makes consistent hard contact so easily. Ramirez showed enough at Portland that he may begin 2005 at Triple-A Pawtucket. Though he could be ready to play regularly in Boston by 2006, the Red Sox signed free agent Edgar Renteria to a four-year contract through 2008. That deal could make Ramirez a prime piece of trade bait.
While the Red Sox have Nomar Garciaparra and pursued a trade for Alex Rodriguez, they have another potential five-tool shortstop coming up in Ramirez. His first two pro seasons were nothing short of sensational, as he batted a combined .349/.400/.541. He was Boston's Rookie-level Dominican Summer Player of the Year in 2001, and the No. 1 prospect in both the Rookie-level Gulf Coast and short-season New York-Penn leagues as an encore. Ramirez' ascent slowed in 2003, his first exposure to full-season ball. He started slowly at low Class A Augusta, then was banished to extended spring training for 10 days in early May after he made an obscene gesture to fans in a game at South Georgia. He settled down after he returned and finished with steady if not spectacular numbers for a teenaged infielder in the South Atlantic League. Though he didn't tear up low Class A or force a midseason promotion, the Red Sox are pleased with what they call a solid developmental year. Tampa Bay's B.J. Upton is the only minor league shortstop whose raw tools compare to Ramirez'. He's the best athlete and has the strongest infield arm in the Red Sox system--and he's most dangerous at the plate. Ramirez has quick hands, a smooth stroke and lots of bat speed. He has pitch recognition beyond his years, so he's not vulnerable to breaking balls and is able to hit deep in counts. If he puts it all together, he could be a .300/.370/.500 shortstop in the majors. He improved his baserunning skills in 2003, and his combination of speed and aggressiveness makes him a stolen base threat. His arm also got better last year, as he maintained plus arm strength throughout the season for the first time. He has classic shortstop actions and reliable hands. The Red Sox have tried to temper the hype swirling around Ramirez because it has come so quickly that he hasn't handled it well. His May suspension wasn't an isolated incident. He was sent home from instructional league in 2002 after he cursed at a trainer. Ramirez did a better job of keeping his composure and acting more professionally when he came back from extended spring training. He needs to let the game come to him instead of trying to do too much. Ramirez is too worried about hitting the ball out of the park, so he lengthens his swing and gets overaggressive. He should be able to work counts and draw walks, but his impatience often gets the best of him. He made 36 errors at Augusta, mostly on throws where he had little chance to get the runner or where he just got careless. Once Ramirez becomes a true professional, he should take off. The Red Sox hope that will happen in 2004 at high Class A Sarasota. If Boston re-signs Garciaparra, Ramirez could become a valuable trading chip.
Ramirez rocketed from obscurity to the top of the list over the course of the 2002 season. In his 2001 pro debut, he led Boston's Rookie-level Dominican Summer League affiliate with a .345 average and earned the organization's player of the year award for that club, but otherwise escaped attention. After arriving in the United States, he didn't stay anonymous for long. Managers rated him the best prospect in both the Rookie-level Gulf Coast and the short-season New York-Penn leagues, and he led the GCL in slugging percentage. Though it's risky to place labels on a player before he even reaches full-season ball, managers and scouts already are comparing Ramirez to such players as Nomar Garciaparra, Vladimir Guerrero, Alex Rodriguez and Alfonso Soriano. The best parallel at this point is Soriano. Ramirez is a legitimate five-tool shortstop who has instincts to go with his athletic talents. Signed as a switch-hitter, he was so advanced from the right side that he had no need to hit lefthanded. Ramirez has quick hands and the ball jumps off his bat. Against Mets first-round pick Scott Kazmir, he drilled a 96 mph fastball off the wall. Ramirez recognizes pitches, can hit the breaking ball and uses the whole field. He's mechanically sound and doesn't chase pitches out of the strike zone. Ramirez projects to be a plus hitter for both average and power in the big leagues; he's also an above-average runner. Defensively, he has soft hands and supplements an average arm with a quick release. His footwork improved over the course of the season. The Red Sox have some concerns that the hype has come too fast for Ramirez, who was sent home early from instructional league for disciplinary reasons. He knows he's good, and can be immature and selfish. While he has lots of potential, he'll need to keep working hard to realize it. Ramirez rarely swings and misses, to the detriment of working deep counts and drawing walks. Though Boston has no need to rush him, Ramirez will determine how much time he needs in the minors. He'll start 2003 at low Class A Augusta but could force a mid-season promotion if he continues to dominate.
Minor League Top Prospects
Ramirez' tools are similar to Milledge's, and he also matured this season. His bat isn't quite as advanced, however, because he struggles with the rhythm of his swing, restricting his ability to center balls on the bat. At times his front foot doesn't get back to the ground quickly enough, disrupting his timing. Once he corrects that flaw, he should become an all-star shortstop in the majors--though his immediate path in Boston is blocked by Edgar Renteria. Ramirez possesses excellent bat speed and strong wrists, and when he's right, balls jump off his bat and have carry to all fields. His defense is spectacular, as Ramirez has above-average range, plus-plus arm strength and soft hands. He also has plus speed. He has cleaned up a reputation for immaturity that dogged him in the lower minors, though some scouts think he still plays with excessive flash.
As good as Guzman is, Ramirez projects to be a better major league shortstop. While Guzman's size and range probably will lead to a change of positions, Ramirez is an above-average defender. He has good feet and a cannon for an arm. "What a young talent," Fort Myers manager Jose Marzan said. "He makes the game look so easy." Ramirez also has a relatively advanced approach at the plate. He slugged just .389 in the FSL, but that was partly due to a June wrist injury, and he showed plus power after a promotion to Double-A. He drives the ball to all fields and doesn't have a below-average tool. The biggest questions with Ramirez revolve around his maturity. A year after a couple of disciplinary problems in the low Class A South Atlantic League, he hasn't fully alleviated concerns about his makeup. The feeling is that while Ramirez can be an all-star, he'll be as good as he wants to be.
Ramirez came out of spring training as the talk of the Red Sox system, but he quickly found himself in the organization's doghouse. He was suspended and demoted to extended spring training in May for repeated conduct violations. He was sent home from instructional league last fall for a similar reason. Most of Ramirez' issues can be attributed to immaturity, and managers noticed a change in attitude later in the season. "I saw a very good improvement of mental makeup in this kid," South Georgia manager Dann Bilardello said. "He has learned how to conduct himself and be a professional, which is part of our jobs. I saw a more mature player in the field." The 19-year-old Ramirez showed impressive tools in his full-season debut, though his performance wasn't overwhelming. He has plus raw power, but needs to learn to keep his stroke short and quick instead of swinging for the fences. In the field, he has natural shortstop actions and a big-time arm.
Had Kazmir pitched enough innings, he might have ranked No. 1 on this list. Ramirez, who did qualify despite his own late start, earned the top ranking in both the GCL and the NY-P. When they faced each other, Ramirez won the matchup by showing off his tremendous bat speed and driving a 96-mph fastball off the wall. Ramirez spent a year in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League after signing in 2000. While the Red Sox were excited about his five-tool ability and natural athleticism, he far surpassed all expectations in his first taste of pro ball in the States. "He's the best player in this league, and the best prospect in the Red Sox organization," Lowell manager Mike Boulanger said. "He can do everything. He's got a feel for the game you can't teach. You could put him in Triple-A right now and he'd fit in."
Managers were so enthralled with Ramirez' five-tool ability that they compared him to Alex Rodriguez and Nomar Garciaparra at the same stage of their careers. "He's awesome," Orioles manager Jesus Alfaro said. "He's tall and thin like A-Rod, and has similar actions. He's got range and arm strength, and is capable of making the spectacular play. And he's an outstanding hitter." "He has the gift," Reds manager Edgar Caceres said. "He has great bat speed and should hit for both power and average. There are no holes in his swing." Ramirez' bat is his best tool. He hit .341 for the Red Sox – second in the league – and outdid himself when he was promoted to the New York-Penn League for the final 19 games. He hit .379 there and was named the short-season circuit's No. 1 prospect. "He's on the fast track to the big leagues and should get there quicker than anyone," Twins manager Rudy Hernandez said. "He may end up at third base, but he has the bat to play there." While managers universally praised Ramirez' can't-miss talent, they were also unanimous in their concern for his lackadaisical, sometimes cocky approach to the game.
Top 100 Rankings
Best Tools List
- Rated Most Exciting Player in the National League in 2008
- Rated Best Defensive SS in the Eastern League in 2005
- Rated Best Infield Arm in the Boston Red Sox in 2005
- Rated Best Defensive Infielder in the Boston Red Sox in 2005
- Rated Best Athlete in the Boston Red Sox in 2005
- Rated Fastest Baserunner in the Boston Red Sox in 2005
- Rated Best Infield Arm in the Florida State League in 2004
- Rated Best Defensive SS in the Florida State League in 2004
- Rated Best Infield Arm in the Boston Red Sox in 2004
- Rated Best Athlete in the Boston Red Sox in 2004