J.P. Ramirez Joins ‘From Phenom To The Farm: Episode 2

Image credit: J.P. Ramirez (Photo by Mike Janes/Four Seam Images)

“From Phenom to the Farm” releases new episodes every other Tuesday featuring players whose experiences vary across the professional baseball spectrum. Players will discuss their personal experiences going from high school graduation to the life of a professional baseball player.

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Like many other recently graduated seniors in the high school class of 2008, J.P. Ramirez spent the August after his graduation getting ready to head off to college. He’d attended orientation, picked his fall semester classes, and was well on his way to starting his journey in the Tulane University class of 2012.

Unlike most of his peers, Ramirez had an enticing alternative to college on the table, albeit one that didn’t seem likely to come to fruition.

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An outfielder from Canyon High School in New Braunfels, Texas, Ramirez hit .395 for the U.S. Junior National Team in the summer of 2007, and per his 2008 BA draft report, “he smokes line drives from gap to gap.” After a standout senior season, Ramirez headed into the June 2008 MLB draft with a claim to being the top amateur hitter in the state of Texas.

What worked against Ramirez’s chances to be an early draft pick was a reportedly high asking price to be bought out of his Tulane commitment and questions about his size, leading some scouts to label him a “tweener.” Despite his offensive track record, he fell to the Nationals in the 15th round, which nearly cemented his enrollment at Tulane that fall.

Post-draft, his summer went like most others in his life. Ramirez continued to play baseball and enjoy his summer while waiting for school to start. In the days leading up to the MLB signing deadline, he headed to New York City for a final family vacation before he became a college student.

A few hundred miles down the East Coast in Washington, D.C., the Nationals were watching the top prize of their draft class slip through their fingers.

Missouri right-hander Aaron Crow, the 9th overall pick, had made it clear that he wouldn’t be signing (Crow would head to the American Association and be drafted 12th overall the following year). The Nationals were in the midst of a year that would leave them with the worst record in baseball, and now staring at bringing in a draft class with just one seven-figure signing (2nd rounder, OF Destin Hood). Suddenly, Ramirez’s bonus demands and the Nationals need to bring in talent with their draft class became a match.

Still in New York City, Ramirez received a phone call that instantly altered his college plans.

“The Nationals called right at the deadline, the 15th,” Ramirez recalled, “’J.P., we’re going to give you what you want.’”

He signed right then and there, agreeing to a $1,000,000 signing bonus, the second-highest paid by the Nationals that year.

A few days later, Ramirez was in uniform for the GCL Nationals as they made a playoff push. Less than five years later, he was out of affiliated baseball.

In the second episode of ‘From Phenom to the Farm’ we will talk to former Nationals outfielder J.P. Ramirez. He’ll further detail the signing deadline that changed his life, dealing with front office upheaval when you’re a low-level prospect, speaking up about injuries, and life in non-affiliated professional baseball.

To get new episodes of ‘From Phenom to the Farm’ as they’re released, please subscribe wherever you get your podcasts, and leave a rating & review.

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