Scouting Rangers Prospect #20: Neil Ramirez

Neil Ramirez does not figure to throw an official minor league pitch until the Spokane season opens in mid-June, but he already rates as one of the top pitching prospects in the organization. Lone Star Dugout takes a look at the pitcher with an in-depth scouting report.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Neil Ramirez
Position: Starting Pitcher
DOB: May 25, 1989
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 185
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Neil Ramirez entered the 2007 campaign as one of the top high school prospects in the nation. But an inconsistent senior season at Virginia Beach's Kempsville High School caused Ramirez to fall all the way to the 44th overall pick, where the Rangers eagerly drafted him.

Although Ramirez was the third high school pitcher taken by the Rangers in last summer's draft, he has the ability to be just as good as the first two.

The Rangers' negotiations with Ramirez – who had a scholarship to play baseball at Georgia Tech – drug out until the August 15 deadline. The club was eventually able to ink the hurler to a $1 million signing bonus, matching the highest amount of last year's supplemental first round.

Ramirez reported to the club's minor league complex in Surprise, Ariz., a few days after he signed with the Rangers. Though he was in Arizona for the final two weeks of the Arizona Rookie League season, he did not appear in any games. Ramirez spent his time working out, waiting for fall instructional league to begin.

While at instructs, Ramirez estimates he made four or five appearances in games. The Virginia native took advantage of the opportunity to work with the organization's coaches by tweaking his mechanics early on. Ramirez worked to use his legs more in his delivery, an adjustment he believes has helped to improve his already above-average breaking ball.

Ramirez has yet to appear in an official minor league game, but he has impressed onlookers both at instructs and in spring training thus far. Already ranked as a top 20 prospect in one of baseball's best farm systems, Ramirez has the talent to be among the system's elite prospects in a year or two.

Also See: Lone Star Dugout Q&A: Neil Ramirez (June 7, 2007)
Ramirez waiting to sign with Rangers (July 11, 2007)
Ramirez agrees to terms with Rangers (August 15, 2007)
Sizing up the right-handed pitching prospects (October 16, 2007)
Ramirez wants to use legs (November 27, 2007)

Repertoire: Fastball, Curveball, Changeup.

Ramirez's fastball velocity was somewhat inconsistent as he battled mechanical issues – along with a back injury – during his senior season of high school, but he has sat in the low-90s since signing with the Rangers. Ramirez has shown the ability to work his fastball into the mid-90s, occasionally reaching into the 94-96 range. The prospect's curveball is already above-average and it certainly has plus potential. When on, Ramirez's curve is one of the better breaking pitches in a system loaded with strong pitching prospects. Like most top high school pitchers, Ramirez rarely utilized his changeup in high school. The pitch is still in development and only time will tell whether or not it can become a third above-average offering.

Projection: At present time, Ramirez looks to have mid-rotation potential, but a lot can change before the 18-year-old reaches the Major Leagues. If Ramirez is able to remain consistent with his curveball and develop a strong changeup, he could be more down the line.

2008 Outlook: It seems to be a given that Ramirez will begin the season in extended spring training. The Rangers have indicated that he will follow fellow first-round pick Blake Beavan to Spokane when the short season starts. Ramirez will certainly be a member of the Indians' starting rotation. He probably won't get an opportunity to advance further than Spokane in 2008, but he has the ability to move quickly after his first professional season.

ETA: 2011.

Year Team W-L IP H BB SO ERA
2007 DNP – Unsigned

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