Nick Ramirez Picks Up Pitching Quickly

The Nick Ramirez experiment, an unqualified success in 2017, will continue in 2018.

Ramirez last year converted from first baseman to lefthanded reliever, and he spent virtually all season in the Double-A Biloxi bullpen. The Brewers re-signed the 28-year-old in early January after he qualified as a minor league free agent.

The Brewers remain intrigued by Ramirez’s potential on the mound. He was a Southern League all-star and workhorse reliever who appeared in 48 games and worked 79 innings in 2017.

A sinkerballer who relies on getting ground ball outs, Ramirez allowed just 56 hits while striking out 56. He walked 2.7 per nine innings, which was one of the lowest rates among SL relievers, and held lefthanded batters to a .167 average.

And, oh yeah, Ramirez also took a few swings along the way, compiling an .825 OPS over 27 at-bats, with two home runs and six RBIs.

Make no mistake: The Brewers think Ramirez, a 2011 fourth-rounder who both hit and pitched at Cal State Fullerton, has the most potential on the mound. At the end of the season, they gave him a one-game trial at Triple-A Colorado Springs, a hitter’s haven where he will likely open 2018.

Asked if he could envision Ramirez making it to the big leagues at some point, general manager David Stearns said: “The fact that we’re bringing him back shows that we believe he has the potential to be a very unique player at the big league level.

“There is still development left. He knows that and he’ll keep working. But we would not have brought him back had we not thought there was a chance he could pitch in the big leagues. He probably picked (pitching) up a little faster than anyone could have expected.”

While the Brewers might not have another Shohei Ohtani on their hands, Ramirez showed enough to keep the experiment going.


• Righthander Taylor Jungmann, who went 9-2, 2.59 in 17 games at Colorado Springs but did not receive a September callup, was granted his release to pursue an opportunity in Japan. He and lefty Jed Bradley were first-round picks out of college in 2011, but neither remains in the organization.

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