Harold Ramirez Is Primed For A Big Role
Cuban outfielder Victor Victor Mesa signed with the Marlins in October for $5.25 million.
One month later, 24-year-old outfielder Harold Ramirez signed with the Marlins for a bonus of $25,000 in what could be a steal for Miami.
Playing for the Blue Jays organization last year, Ramirez hit .320 and won the Double-A Eastern League batting title. He followed that up by hitting .381/.459/.556 and winning the Venezuelan League batting crown this winter.
Despite ranking among the EL leader in hits, doubles and total bases last season, Ramirez qualified as a minor league free agent in November when Toronto decided not to add him to its 40-man roster.
Ramirez said he received offers from 15 organizations. In an effort to re-sign him, the Blue Jays offered the largest bonus at $32,000—but Ramirez chose the Marlins.
"I left money on the table,” he said. "I believe the Marlins are giving me the biggest opportunity.”
Ramirez said he is playing for his wife, their 2-year-old son Elian and the rest of their family in Cartagena, Colombia.
Even though soccer is religion in Colombia, Ramirez’s mom was a third baseman in softball and his dad was an outfielder in baseball.
Ramirez followed in their cleat marks and signed with the Pirates in 2011. The Blue Jays acquired him in 2016, and his breakthrough came last season, when he delivered career highs in doubles (37), home runs (11) and RBIs (70). He also stole 16 bases in 18 attempts and compiled an .836 OPS.
Ramirez's performance in Venezuela made the Marlins’ investment look even smarter. He collected 18 extra-base hits in 44 games and compiled a 1.016 OPS.
"I worked on using my legs more in my swing and getting the ball up in the air,” Ramirez said in Spanish when asked to describe his improvement. "Also, I play aggressively all the time. I run the bases hard, and I don’t like to lose.”
At 5-foot-10, 220 pounds, Ramirez said his plan is to skip Triple-A and earn a corner outfield spot on the Marlins' big league roster this spring.
—Ramirez said the Marlins told him that center fielder Lewis Brinson is the only outfielder virtually guaranteed a big league roster spot. Brian Anderson could be at third base or right field, depending on the status of Martin Prado, who has totaled just 91 games the past two years because of injuries.
That leaves the corner outfield spots open to a competition for players such as Garrett Cooper, Austin Dean, Magneuris Sierra, Isaac Galloway, Rosell Herrera and Ramirez. Prospects Monte Harrison, 23, and Mesa, 22, could soon be factors as well.