Cesar Ramos learns through experience

Learning is essential in the game of baseball. Left-hander Cesar Ramos educates himself after every start and through the off-season. That attribute made him a top pick and continues his ascension today.

Talk about the year in Lake Elsinore for you. You had a great year, minus the month of August.

Cesar Ramos: Everything went pretty good. I am trying to get better in every start. It was a pretty good learning experience this season, especially having decent success and that downfall at the end of the season and learning how to deal with both and developing mentally as a player.

What did you learn from that downfall as you called it?

Cesar Ramos: Just stick with what got you there to get you through it. It was a matter of me not making pitches in certain situations that I was doing before and learning from that and carrying it on to the next start. You have to stick with what works and trust your stuff.

Late in August you were shut down for pretty much the rest of the year, making one relief appearance. Was that a reflection of how many innings you put on your arm?

Cesar Ramos: I was a little worn down and they decided it was best for me. You rest up and get ready for the next year and that is pretty much what I did. I took that time off as my off-season and once I got home I got back to business to get ready for the next year.

During the year it was kind of strange – you had a few games where control problems plagued you, and that normally hasn't been the case with you. Can you pinpoint the reasoning?

Cesar Ramos: There are just those games where I didn't have my stuff and I was still trying to be nitpicky and just being picking and not going out and pitching, knowing I don't have my best stuff, to get ahead in counts to get through it. Sometimes I got too fine and that is where I got hurt. That is part of the learning in minor league baseball.

It also seemed like, and this is on the outside looking in, it took you a while to settle into a rhythm during each game. The first one or two innings were a little more difficult for you as you got into the flow of the game.

Cesar Ramos: I always pictured myself as one of those guys that as the game goes on I get tougher to hit against. That has been my thing from college until now – get through that first inning and get comfortable and find out what is going to work for me today and what is not working and what is the pitch to go to. I am a slow starter but try to get better as the game progresses. That is kind of the way my season went.

Can you change that – whether it is throwing a few extra pitches to feel comfortable in that first inning or something else?

Cesar Ramos: Yea, I think it is more of a matter of attacking the strike zone aggressively from the start instead of trying to get a feel for it and then trying to get aggressive and staying aggressive throughout the game and hopefully that will change the outcome of the first couple of innings and carry it over for the rest of the game. It is all about how you start the game because the first inning could mess up the rest of the game for you.

You have four pitches – does it seem like there is one too many. How do you work them all in?

Cesar Ramos: I am not an overpowering guy so there are certain pitches I have to keep in my back pocket and surprise them with. A big hitter comes in and you want that first pitch strike and throw something he hasn't seen or the whole lineup hasn't seen. That is the positive and it is also a negative – every pitch has a certain feel and if you have that feel for two pitches and you want to surprise them with something else it might not be there and you are falling behind in the count.

Do you attack left-handed hitters and right-handed hitters differently?

Cesar Ramos: I try and attack them the same way. It is keeping that aggressiveness. Once you start letting that down they take advantage of you with the bat. I try and attack the zone the same way.

One of the concerns from scouts I talked to is that your fastball speed is a little erratic. We know you can hit the spots and hit 90 MPH but there are games where that velocity dips.

Cesar Ramos: I think every once and a while you get outside yourself and overthrow and that is when you get hurt. The days when everything is under control I was mid to upper-80's. I kind of got myself into trouble trying to do too much.

What has the off-season been like for you? Has there been an emphasis on endurance to make it through the season? Over the last two seasons you have pitched a lot of innings.

Cesar Ramos: Definitely – especially this past year, what do I need to do to get myself ready for every fifth day? That was the big thing in the first half of the season and I got a routine to make it through the second half but I came up a little short. This year, I am working on strength, conditioning, and being well-prepared, getting my body in the best shape to withstand the whole season.

You had a great defense behind you in Lake Elsinore – talk about having a solid defense behind you and the pressure it eases from your mind when Chase Headley, Skip Adams, and Sean Kazmar are making plays for you – a ground ball pitcher.

Cesar Ramos: They definitely did a great job – Chase and Kaz, That whole infield saved me plenty of times. I get that ground ball that could find a hole; those guys did their job and especially turning those double plays. Chase and Kaz had a good thing going and it definitely helped me as a pitcher. Trusting my defense is good for me. Knowing I can just get that ground ball and let them do their thing – it was fun watching them do that.

Let's say you don't have a good defense. Is that something that affects you mentally on the mound where you feel you really have to be extra fine here?

Cesar Ramos: I try not to get into that mindset. If a guy makes an error you try and pick him up and get him another ground ball. You have to trust your defense, whether they are good or bad. They are going to save you sooner or later and you have to stick with the plan. They are going to make their mistakes just like you are going to make your mistakes. They are going to try and pick you up just like you pick them up. It evens out. You try not to think about it. There are days when you think, ‘Oh geez, if he would have made that play' but there are other days when he made that play he shouldn't have.

You got a chance to work with Colt Morton and Nick Hundley. Talk a little about each guy and how they helped your game.

Cesar Ramos: Colt – just his knowledge of the game. He has been in pro ball for a little bit and he keeps on me about attacking the zone, getting ahead, make sure you put that fastball away and get it down because he knows what guys can do with it, especially guys like him, if you hang it. Colt has an unbelievable ability to send that ball a long way.

With Hundley – I played against him. We are both still wet in the game and are trying to learn off each other to get better.

What is the goal for the coming season?

Cesar Ramos: Just stay healthy and do my thing. Don't try to do too much and put up good numbers and see what happens from there. Things are going to take care of themselves as long as I develop as a player.

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