At just 22 years of age, Bakersfield catcher Max Ramirez has already been with three different organizations, being traded twice in the last two seasons.
With loads of frequent flyer miles racked up early in his career, Ramirez says it has been difficult to settle in.
"It's very tough, getting traded two years in a row," said Ramirez. "But that's baseball; you can't do anything about it. All you can do is play hard and keep working. I hope to do a very good job with this team."
As a member of the Braves organization in 2005, the then 20-year-old Ramirez was named Appalachian League Player of the Year. With the short-season Danville Braves that year, the backstop hit .347 with 19 doubles and eight home runs in 63 games.
Just one year later, Ramirez was named to the South Atlantic League All-Star team for his exceptional work with the Rome Braves. However, he was traded to the Indians organization in a deadline deal for closer Bob Wickman.
Ramirez continued to post outstanding numbers with the Indians organization in 2007, hitting .303 with 12 home runs and 62 RBI in 77 games with High-A Kinston. The numbers were good enough for him to be selected to participate in the 2007 MLB Futures Game in San Francisco.
"It was very nice," said Ramirez of his experience at the Futures Game. "Being able to play in a big league stadium with guys from other countries like the Dominican, Puerto Rico, and Cuba was awesome. It's awesome playing with all those guys and future big league players. It was a very nice experience."
Between Ramirez, Elvis Andrus and John Whittleman, the Bakersfield lineup currently features three 2007 Futures Game participants. Ramirez said it was nice playing with those two, but it was not the first time he had been a teammate of Andrus'.
"Elvis Andrus was there and he played with me when I was with Atlanta two years ago," replied Ramirez.
Just weeks after that game, Ramirez would be traded once again, this time to the Texas Rangers for outfielder Kenny Lofton.
Ramirez, who had been playing in the pitcher-friendly Carolina League, made the switch to the hitter-friendly California League. Though he hasn't been with Bakersfield for long, the catcher already notices some differences.
"In the Carolina League, they had better pitchers," he said. "The top batting average in the league was about .307, and there are ten or fifteen guys with over a .300 average here. I think the guys can hit a lot in this league. The ballparks are very short and it's a better league for hitters."
Whether it's the Carolina League or the California League, Ramirez has done nothing but post outstanding numbers. He has combined to hit .314 with an on base percentage of .418 between Kinston and Bakersfield this year.
The right-handed hitter is able to do it with what he describes as a relatively simple approach at the plate.
"Right now I'm just trying to keep seeing the ball well and keep trying to make contact with the ball."
While few doubt his bat, many believe Ramirez's defense is a work-in-progress. In just his third season as a catcher, the 22-year-old believes he is improving.
"Right now I'm working with my footwork," he said. "I feel very good with my arm and my game calling is OK. I feel very good behind the plate."
With only a couple of weeks left in the season, Ramirez – who currently has a career-high 15 home runs – would like to get a few more.
"I want to hit 20 home runs this season," said Ramirez. "That's my goal. I'm going to work hard to do that."
Ramirez hopes to stick with Rangers
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