Feel For Hitting Elevates Tyler Ramirez
The first time Neil Avent watched outfielder Tyler Ramirez, he saw something special.
"I really thought he could swing the bat,” said Avent, the Athletics' area scout for the Carolinas. "He always had very good at-bats. I think all the (scouts) wanted him. I was fortunate enough to be the one who got him.”
The A’s drafted Ramirez out of North Carolina in the seventh round in 2016, and the lefthanded hitter has spent three years proving Avent right.
All Ramirez has done is hit. The 23-year-old had risen to Double-A Midland, where he tortured Texas League pitchers. Through 44 games, he hit .304/.400/.478 with four home runs, 12 doubles and two triples.
"I definitely think that his hit tool is the one that carries him, no question about that,” Avent said. "You’re splitting hairs if you say it is a 60 or a 70 (on the 20-80 scouting scale). It’s definitely above-average.”
The 5-foot-9 Ramirez is a line-to-line, line-drive hitter, which could make him difficult to defend—or at least difficult to shift against. Plus, he hangs in against lefthanded pitchers about as well as righthanders.
Ramirez plays all three outfield positions, but his best spot is left field, where last season he did not make an error in 168 outfield chances. He played 100 of his 128 games in left as he spent most of the season at high Class A Stockton.
Farm director Keith Lieppman said Ramirez has enough arm and a very quick release to make him playable in right field, plus he has good enough outfield instincts to survive in center. His speed is average to slightly above, but he lacks the burner speed teams desire for a center fielder.
The big question will be power, especially if Ramirez is limited to a corner.
"He’s starting to flash occasional power,” Lippman said of Ramirez, who hit 11 home runs in 2017.
The A’s will be watching closely to see what develops.
Nine Players Who Are Unlikely Opening Day Roster Additions
Baseball is filled with unique stories and unlikely big leaguers. Here are nine players J.J. Cooper is thrilled to see get their day in the sun, for a variety of reasons.
>> Midland shortstop Richie Martin returned from injuries to unexpectedly become an offensive force. The slick defender batted .284 in his first 27 games. Lieppman said Martin used his recovery time to work on his swing, and the results were evident.
>> Righthander James Kaprielian suffered soreness in his right shoulder during his rehabilitation from Tommy John surgery, and his workouts were shut down. This is common for players recovering from the surgery.