Boston Red Sox Top 10 Prospects
By Jim Callis
Age: 19. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 170. Signed: Dominican Republic, 2000. Signed by: Levy Ochoa/Julian Camilo.
Background: Ramirez rocketed from obscurity to the top of the list over the course of the summer. In his 2001 pro debut, he led Bostons Rookie-level Dominican Summer League affiliate with a .345 average and earned the organizations player of the year award for that club, but otherwise escaped attention. After arriving in the United States, he didnt 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 its 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.
Strengths: 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. Hes mechanically sound and doesnt chase pitches out of the strike zone. Ramirez projects to be a plus hitter for both average and power in the big leagues; hes 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.
Weaknesses: 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 hes good, and can be immature and selfish. While he has lots of potential, hell need to keep working hard to realize it. Ramirez rarely swings and misses, to the detriment of working deep counts and drawing walks.
The Future: Though Boston has no need to rush him, Ramirez will determine how much time he needs in the minors. Hell start 2003 at low Class A Augusta but could force a midseason promotion if he continues to dominate.
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