Dawn of a New Ace

Horacio Ramirez has the potential to be the Braves ace within the next few years. Taylor profiles Horacio, and tells us what we might expect from him.

Horacio Ramirez the rookie left-hander for the Braves started the first game of his short major league career Wednesday night. We may have seen the beginning of the ca-reer of Atlanta's future ace. Horacio pitched his heart out Wednesday night. He had five strikeouts through five innings, but the offense let him down. Horacio did his job of get-ting guys out, and all he was rewarded with was 3 hits from the Bravos offense and a loss. He would go on to pitch 7 innings, but still he got nothing from his offense. It's amazing how three All Star outfielders can be completely baffled by a second year pitcher that doesn't have much pitching experience. The outfield trio of Andruw Jones, Gary Sheffield, and Chipper Jones were completely confused by Zach Day, combining for only one hit, and it cost Ramirez his first major league victory.

From the start of the game he looked like the ace that we all thought he could be two years ago. This was all before he blew out his elbow and had to undergo tendon re-placement surgery. The procedure that he underwent is more commonly known as Tommy John Surgery. He underwent intense rehab and was ready to go much earlier than expected. Last season at AAA Richmond "Ho Ram" had a solid 9-5 record with a 3.03 ERA. He followed that up with a respectable tour in the Arizona Fall League where he finished with a 2.55 ERA in 35.1 innings. He then went to Kissimmee for Spring Train-ing and went off. He had a 4-0 record in 6 starts with a 1.90 ERA and earned a spot in the starting rotation for 2003. Little did he know that injuries would follow shortly to starters Mike Hampton and Paul Byrd and he would be thrust to the top of the rotation and end up starting the second game of the season.

Ramirez started out badly on Wednesday, giving up a hit to Orlando Cabrera, and then followed that up by allowing a two run home run to star 2nd baseman Jose Vidro. It looked like it was going to be a long evening for the Braves rookie starter. Horacio would give up two runs in his first start, and both of those runs would come off the bat of Vidro. From that point on he pitched extremely well, but he was outmatched by a stellar per-formance from second year pitcher Zach Day. Acquired from the Indians in the Milton Bradley trade at the Trade Deadline in 2001, Day was not considered a top prospect and was only in the starting rotation because of injuries to starters Orlando Hernandez and his half brother Livan Hernandez. He proved Wednesday night that he deserved to be there by shutting out the Braves over 7 innings.

In the end Horacio took the loss in his first Major League start, but this is some-thing he can build upon. He pitched well, and something that has plagued many a Braves pitcher over the last few seasons bit him also, the lack of offense. Ramirez deserved to win, but he was defeated by a mediocre starting pitcher that was made to look perfect by a struggling Braves offense. Scheduled to start again Monday against Florida, Horacio could see a similar output from the Atlanta offense, and he will also see several more quality hitters in the Florida lineup. But based on what we saw Wednesday night, that shouldn't be much of a problem for this up and coming ace.

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