Q&A with Greg Ramirez

Bombers' RHP Greg Ramirez sits down with NYfansonly.com for an offseason Q&A session to talk about if he would rather be a starter or reliever, what the team chemistry was like on the Bombers in 2004, who has the highest upside in his opinion, who he thinks is the biggest "sleeper" among the Mets' prospects, and much more!

NYF: Tell us a little bit about your days at Pepperdine University.

Greg Ramirez: I pitched at Rio Mesa High School in Oxnard, California, before playing at Pepperdine for four years. It was tough to get innings as a freshman and sophomore because we had guys like Noah Lowery and Dan Haren ahead of me (laughing). I was a middle reliever as a freshman and then became the mid-week starter as a sophomore. It's kind of like a #5 starter. I would pitch the non-conference games in the middle of the week. In my junior year, Frank Sanchez wanted me to close but that didn't work out at all as I blew a few saves. I started every game my senior year and something just clicked. I am still trying to figure out how it all came together. We were winning together as a team and I guess was not trying to do too much. I was just trying to stay consistent.

NYF: Just like it was in college, you've been used as both a reliever and a starter. Do you have a preference either way?

Ramirez: I prefer to be a starter. The way I throw, I have more gas in the tank to be a starter. I am not a max effort guy. I am not sure if its conserving energy or what, but I like being in the game longer. Don't get me wrong. As a reliever, it is cool to be in the game needing three outs in a clutch situation and you do get to pitch more often. But I just like going six, seven, or eight innings. It is something I'd rather do. The Mets have hinted that I'll be a starter and that's something that I have my sights set on doing.

NYF: Tell us a little bit about your repertoire. Give us a scouting report on yourself.

Ramirez: I throw a fastball, curveball, changeup, and slider. I throw a 2-seam fastball and a 4-seam fastball, but I throw the 2-seamer a lot more. I'd say 90% of my fastballs are 2-seamers and they are in the 88-91 MPH range, topping off at 93 MPH. I have decent sink on my 2-seamer. I don't really throw my 4-seamer at any specific time, just when I'm in the mood (laughing). I have a hard, 12-6 curveball that is between 69-72 MPH and I have a changeup that I throw 78-80 MPH. I started working on my slider towards the end of the year last season and I am really excited about it. I tried throwing a slider my freshman year of college but it never really caught on. I was working with Rick Waits at the Instructional Leagues and something just clicked. I think my slider could be a solid #2 or #3 pitch for me. I throw my fastball with a purpose and base my breaking stuff off my fastball. Right now, my curveball is my strikeout pitch more than my changeup.

NYF: What has it been like being a part of the Mets' organization?

Ramirez: I have liked it a lot. They treat everybody with a lot of respect and they know who you are. It's been awesome. It really shows in the team chemistry too. It is really an organizational thing. Guys just fit in. Whether guys are moving up or down, everybody has been just great. I am truly thankful that the Mets picked me. I was pretty lucky.

NYF: Tell us a little bit about the team chemistry on the Bombers last year. It seemed as if you guys were pretty close. Was there one guy you guys looked to as the team leader?

Ramirez: Yeah it was pretty awesome on our team last year. Usually there is five or six clicks on a team but we were one big group on the Bombers last year. Everybody got along and we all hung out together. I'd say Shawn Bowman was one guy everybody looked up too. He's a young guy but is really mature on and off the field. He made so many amazing plays last year and has one of the best personalities. He's always making us laugh and he's the one guy you want on the field and in the clubhouse. Matt Lindstrom was another leader on our team as one of the older guys.

NYF: Which of your Bomber teammates would you say has the highest ceiling, among the positional players?

Ramirez: Lastings Milledge has so much athletic ability, it is really amazing. He covers so much ground in the outfield, it is pretty scary. He's a definite five-tool talent and I've never seen that in any player. It is truly scary what he's going to be like in a few years. He has tremendous speed and uses it defensively and on the base paths. He nees to be more of a baserunner. But the raw speed has has is unbelievable. Actually, all of his tools are raw right now and once he polishes his game he's going to be pretty damn good it is safe to say. I think he looks like a young version of Barry Bonds from the right side. He has the same athleticism as Barry did in his younger days, before he blew up. Honestly though, you also have to put Shawn Bowman in that group of high ceiling guys. He's great defensively and hits for power. Right now he looks like a toothpick too. He he grows like he should, he's really going to be awesome in the future. He's a stud at third base and I think he could bulk up and become a Scott Rolen type.

NYF: Of the pitchers that played with you in Capital City, which one impressed you the most?

Ramirez: Shane Hawk really impressed me. He's another guy that is not done growing. He's one of the most flexible guys. He has the type of body that can whip it to the plate. As he gets more experience he's going to be a pretty big factor on somebody's team. I think he could be a pretty good closer. He's a big time gamer and you want him on the mound in a clutch situation. He has a unique wind up and live arm action. He's only going to get better after working more in the weight room.

NYF: What are your goals for next season? Where you do you think you'll start the 2005 season? And do you have any sort of specific numbers in mind that you'd like to reach?

Ramirez: It all comes down to Spring Training. The bottom line is it all depends on how I perform there. I'd like to start off in St. Lucie at minimum and finish off the year in AA-Binghamton if I can. I used to make specific goals, numbers-wise, in high school. In fact, it was mandatory. I now realize its harder to stay consistent if you're all about the numbers. I just try to remain consistent with each pitch and try not to overthrow. I want to do what my body is able to do. If I give a consistent effort, there should not be too many peaks and vallies during the year.

NYF: Of your fellow Bombers' teammates from last year, which one player were you most impressed with, among the positional players?

Ramirez: Ian Bladergroen. It was really disappointing he got hurt. I have never seen anybody hit like that before. I mean were were in Hickory once and he was hitting line drive after line drive off the outfield wall. He crushes one ball every game. It might not be a homerun but he crushes the balls he hits. He doesn't stand out defensively at first base, but he gets the job done. He puts it on the line for you and I more than trust him at first base. He's very aggressive defensively. He may not have the most talent, but he'll play like he does.

NYF: Which pitcher from the Bombers' staff last year impressed you the most?

Ramirez: I'd have to say Matt Lindstrom. He's your typical power pitcher. He does not have much movement on his pitches yet, but man, he goes right after you. He's easily the hardest thrower I've ever seen. I remember when we heard in Cap City that he threw 100 MPH on the gun in St. Lucie and none of us were surprised at all. Once he learns to throw his curveball and changeup better, he's going to be a big time pitcher down the road. He needs to learn to throw backwards by throwing his breaking stuff first. He has the ability to locate pitches but needs to trust himself more. It's hard to see him not closing out games. That role would suit him perfectly. Everybody sees him as a closer-type and he'll be a pretty good one for sure.

NYF: Is there one player in your mind that is better than people think? You know, a sleeper that does not get the credit he deserves but has what it takes, in your opinion, to get all the way to the Majors?

Ramirez: Man, I am so glad you asked that question. Evan Maclane, absolutely. That kid just knows how to pitch. He's not just throwing out there. He has a plan. Maclane is the complete opposite of Lindstrom. Tom Glavine is the first guy that comes to mind when you see him pitch becuase he's able to locate all of his pitches and he makes it look so easy, like it is no big deal getting guys out.

NYfansonly.com would like to thank Greg Ramirez for taking the time to speak with us this offseason. Be sure to check back with further updates from Greg next season.

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