Tyler Ramirez is used to being challenged. As a freshman, he suited up for 58 games in the outfield for ACC powerhouse North Carolina. He hit .286 that season, earning a permanent spot in the Tar Heels’ starting line-up for the next two seasons. Now in his first full professional campaign, Ramirez is the new kid starting on a veteran team once again as a member of the High-A Stockton Ports.
Throughout his career, Ramirez has been known as a player who grinds out quality at-bats. After posting a career .422 OBP at UNC, Ramirez walked 20 times in 56 pro games last season and already has five walks and a .410 OBP over his first 10 games this year. In other words, he is a classic A’s draft pick. Ramirez, who joined the A's last season as a seventh-round selection, agrees.
“I thought it was a really good fit based on what I did in college and how I like to play the game,” Ramirez said. “I felt the A’s would value that.”
Ramirez did a little bit of everything during his three years at UNC, hitting for average (.301), getting on-base at an impressive clip, showing flashes of power (.477 SLG), making noise on the bases (39 stolen bases in 49 chances in 170 games played) and playing solid defense. Upon joining the A’s, Ramirez split his pro debut between Rookie ball and short-season Vermont. He hit .230/.322/.360 in 56 games last season, but was one of the top performers during the A’s fall Instructional League camp and then again during minor league spring training. With his UNC pedigree and his play during the fall and spring, Ramirez got to skip Low-A.
While Ramirez is at least a year younger in both age and experience than the average Cal League player, he believes he is prepared for the High-A level.
“I feel pretty comfortable with it, especially coming from playing in the ACC in college. I played against a lot of these guys we’ve played so far,” Ramirez said. “Going off of Instructional League and spring training, I think I played into a position of getting an opportunity at a higher level.”
Ramirez might be a relative newcomer to professional baseball, but he has a familiar face with him in the outfield most nights. College teammate Skye Bolt (an A's 2015 draft selection) is the Ports’ regular centerfielder this season. Ramirez teamed with Bolt at UNC in 2014 and 2015. He says having Bolt as a teammate has made the transition to Stockton a little smoother.
“It’s definitely easier having Skye out there because we are really familiar with each other. I really like how he controls the outfield. It makes my job a lot easier. Him knowing me out there I’m sure makes his job a lot easier, as well,” Ramirez said. “It’s been good to have him here to help me get my bearings and to know how to act around some of the older guys here and to help me be a good teammate.”
Because of his ability to get on-base and run well while also hitting for some power, Ramirez has been used at the top and in the middle of the line-up in his career. He says he is the same hitter regardless of where the manager slots in him on the card. Although he has yet to attempt a stolen base this season, Ramirez says he expects to be active on the bases this year.
“We worked a lot on base-stealing and getting good jumps in spring training,” Ramirez said. “That was definitely an emphasis to get that extra-base or steal a base to help your teammates by getting into scoring position.”
Defensively, Ramirez has played in center and left field this season, but he suited up for the majority of his games last year in right field. Ramirez says he feels most comfortable in right, where he played at UNC, but he is happy to suit up wherever needed.
“I just like to be out there,” he said.
One of the areas Ramirez has focused on in the early part of the season is establishing his day-to-day preparation.
“Being comfortable and getting that routine takes a little while,” Ramirez said. “I have always been a big routine guy, so once I have my routine, I’m a lot more comfortable. Once I get through that, it’s just about playing baseball like I have ever since I was a kid.”