Phillies Prospect #38: J.C. Ramirez

J.C. Ramirez has to face some pressure from being a part of the deal that sent Cliff Lee to the Mariners. If the right-hander can develop better secondary pitches, he has a chance to be a very strong pickup from that trade.

Acquired: From Seattle as part of the deal that sent Cliff Lee to the Mariners.
Bats: R   Throws: R
Height: 6' 3"   Weight: 225 lbs.
Birth Date: August 16, 1988
2009 Team(s): High Desert (High-A)
Games/Games Started: 28 G / 27 GS

Why Ramirez debuts at #38: J.C. Ramirez comes to the Phillies organization with a lot of hope and expectations, based solely on the fact that he was part of the trio of players that the Phillies received for pitcher Cliff Lee in the deal with the Seattle Mariners. There is no denying that Ramirez is a quality prospect and it's going to be interesting to see how he handles the pressure that will inevitably be cast on him by being part of such a notable deal. It needs to be noted, too, that while Ramirez wouldn't appear to have outstanding stats for the 2009 season, he was pitching in the California League, which is known for being a hitter's league that can push pitching stats out of whack.

ERA 5.12 4.46
H/9 IP 9.7 9.4
HR/9 IP 1.1 0.8
BB/9 IP 3.4 3.3
KO/9 IP 7.0 8.0
WHIP 1.45 1.42
WP/9 IP 0.9 0.6
A player's stat posted in white indicates that he performed above the league average in that category. A player's stat posted in black indicates that he performed below the league average in that category.

Repertoire: Ramirez has a strong four-seem fastball that generally sits in the low-90s, but he occasionally pushes it as high as 97 when he wants to put a little something extra on the pitch. His change-up is very much a work in progress, as is his slider, and he tends to lose command of his secondary pitches, because he tends to throw them as secondary pitches, without the same effort and consistency that he puts on his fastball. 

Pitching Style: It's easy to like Ramirez mechanics; he throws with a nice, smooth three-quarters arm slot and hides the ball well. Many hitters report that his pitches seem to explode when they come out of his hand and that they can't get good reads on his pitches. If he's going to be successful in the starting rotation, he's got to walk that fine line between keeping up his velocity and intensity, but also back off some and let his secondary pitches work more for him. He tends to blow himself out too quickly because he lives and dies off the heat.

Projection: After some struggles with the Mariners High-A club in High Desert last season, there is a chance that he'll be sent to Clearwater to pitch at basically the same level in 2010, but it's much more likely that the Phillies will challenge him with a promotion to Double-A Reading to see how he handles himself at that level. It's also possible that at some point, he could be moved into the bullpen and possibly, into a closing role because of the lack of consistency with his secondary pitches. Watch for the Phillies to evaluate him closely and push him to develop those secondary pitches before they would move him to the bullpen. If all comes together, he's got the potential to be near the top of a major league starting rotation at some point down the road.

Comparison: One scout who followed the Mariners organization closely the past couple of seasons believes that Rafael Soriano isn't a far-fetched comparison for Ramirez, at least in mechanics and build. He's also a good comparison in that Soriano - while having an even harder fastball than Ramirez - goes right at hitters with full heat and doesn't mess around much with secondary pitches. It should be noted, that Soriano started his career as a starter before Seattle decided that he was more valuable to them out of the bullpen.

J.C. Romero's career stats

2006 VSL 5 1 1.66 14 13 65 43 16 12 0 35 56
2007 Everett (Low-A) 3 7 4.3 15 15 75.1 61 49 36 3 43 73
2008 Wisconsin (A) 6 9 4.14 25 22 124 112 68 57 9 38 113
2009 High Desert (High-A) 8 10 5.12 28 27 142.1 153 93 81 18 53 111
  Minor League Totals 22 27 4.12 82 77 406.2 369 226 186 30 169 353

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