Padres Prospect Interview: Yordany Ramirez

Outfielder Yordany Ramirez said 2007 would be his year. Two-plus months into the season, he is proving that his claim may be right.

Since signing with the Padres as a non-drafted free agent in 2001, Yordany Ramirez has shown glimpses of his talent. He is the best centerfield the Padres have in their minor league system, gliding across the outfield grass to make tough plays look easy, showing off a cannon arm, and taking solid reads off the bat. His offense, however, has always been the negative to a game that many consider to be a possible five-tool arsenal.

He has the speed to be a difference maker on the bases, swiping 61 bags in 73 tries prior to this year, but hasn't been on base enough to use his legs effectively.

Coming into the 2007 season, Ramirez flashed a .237 career average over 270 games.

Still just 22-years old, the Dominican Republic native knew that crunch time had arrived.

Over the first two months of the year, playing for the Lake Elsinore Storm, Ramirez was hitting .269 with 16 extra base hits and 10 stolen bases. He was on pace to shatter all other season-highs and had even been moved up in the order from the ninth slot to the seventh position – the highest he has batted in years.

A sluggish June has seen his average drop to .252 but he still has bested previous years.

This wasn't a magic transformation, though. He finished last year on a high note and carried the work ethic into the off-season, changing his mental tune along the way.

Talk about the off-season and what you were able to accomplish after a solid end to last year in Lake Elsinore.

Yordany Ramirez: I was very excited. I went down to the Venezuelan League and was taking batting practice everyday and tried to do as much as I can. I did what my hitting coach here, Tom Tornicasa, told me to do – keep working in the off-season. I had a good last half of the season and I am trying to be the best I can. I am trying to do exactly what I did the last month or two last year.

Were you disappointed when the Padres told you that you would be heading back to High-A?

Yordany Ramirez: Not really. I feel excited because now I know the league already. I feel like I can do something that people have been waiting for me to do. I know I can do a good job. Grady sent me to this league because he thinks I can do a good job and I appreciate that.

Talk about the confidence for you. How has that aspect of your game changed?

Yordany Ramirez: I have a lot of confidence and attitude for the game. I am not really worried about where I play but how I do. I feel real confident this year and am trying to do the best I can. I think this is my year.

Were there any changes you made in your hitting approach to take advantage of your tools?

Yordany Ramirez: I moved a little closer to the plate and am trying to have a very good two-strike approach. Like Grady says, be patient and aggressive. That is what I am trying to do and something he wants. If we see more pitches we can put the ball in play. And you need to take more walks if the pitch isn't there.

Early in the year you got a chance to face Bartolo Colon. What was that experience like?

Yordany Ramirez: I knew we faced a big league guy and knew he had to throw strikes. It doesn't matter who is on the mound, I just want to get hits.

I was excited to face him. I wanted to hit the ball hard and get some luck.

You said ‘this is your season.' Why do you feel that this is the year Yordany Ramirez breaks out?

Yordany Ramirez: I really worked hard this off-season because I have to prove to everybody that they have a reason to be excited because they have waited for me for a long time and I have to do something to keep them believing in me.

Does that mean there is extra pressure on you to perform and how do you handle that extra pressure?

Yordany Ramirez: Not really. My attitude has changed. I know I can do better everyday, no matter how I do the day before. I know I can do something good the next day. If I don't do it with my bat, I will do it with my defense or my legs.

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