The Rangers were able to acquire catcher Max Ramirez from the Cleveland Indians just prior to last season's trade deadline. The 23-year-old, who had recently participated in the MLB All-Star Futures Game, was in the midst of a breakout season with High-A Kinston.
Ramirez was sent to the Rangers' California League equivalent – the Bakersfield Blaze – shortly after the trade. The prospect continued his outstanding season after coming to the Rangers, as he batted .307 with 10 doubles, four home runs, and 21 walks in only 32 games.
After the regular season ended, Ramirez participated in the Rangers' fall instructional league. He then went back to his native Venezuela, where he played winterball for La Guaira. But Ramirez had his winterball season cut short when he went down with a shoulder injury in mid-December.
Ramirez has been rehabbing in Surprise since late-January and was finally able to catch his first game last week. Lone Star Dugout caught up with the impressive prospect after a recent minor league game.
Jason Cole: How long have you been out here in Surprise?
Max Ramirez: I came here on January 23rd because I got hurt. My shoulder was hurt and I got here early for treatment. But right now I'm ok – everything is good right now.
Cole: Are you having any problems throwing the ball right now?
Ramirez: No, no. I'm ok right now. I feel very good right now.
Cole: When exactly did you get hurt?
Ramirez: I was playing in the winter league in Venezuela. I got hurt on December 15th.
Cole: Did you try to come back from that injury at all or did you pretty much shut it down for the winter?
Ramirez: I got hurt and I stopped playing until January 23rd when Texas called me to get treatment here so I can be ready for spring training. Right now I feel pretty good and I just want to do my job.
Cole: You hit a home run during today's minor league game. Can you go through that at-bat for me?
Ramirez: It was a 3-1 fastball, middle away. I hit the ball good and I hit a home run. Right now when you're playing in spring training, you're just trying to be aggressive and take your pitch because you want to be ready for the season. I hit a home run, but tomorrow I'm going to try to do the same thing.
Cole: What are you currently trying to focus on as a hitter?
Ramirez: I'm trying to focus on hitting the ball to right-center field. I want to stay close and try to hit line drives in the gap.
Cole: You haven't gotten much work behind the plate yet this spring, but what did you work on while you were at instructs in October?
Ramirez: Scott Servais, the director of the minor leagues, he worked with me a lot. He tried to give me a good position behind the plate. Right now I'm just working on my throwing because I had a problem with my shoulder, but right now I'm ok.
Cole: Have you set any goals for this season?
Ramirez: Yeah, of course. I want to play hard and I want to have a good season because I want to get a call in September to the big leagues. I want to play in the big leagues this year – that's my goal.
Cole: Were you able to go over for any big league games this spring?
Ramirez: I just played one game, one at-bat because I got hurt. I struck out.
Cole: Were you able to learn anything from the Major League players while you were over there?
Ramirez: Of course. We have so many guys – we have Kevin Millwood, a really good pitcher and a nice guy. He talked to me a lot. We have Padilla, a right-handed pitcher from Nicaragua. When you catch those guys, you can learn because they have good command. They have control of the ball; they can throw to the corners. They have a lot of experience and you can learn a lot when you play with the major league guys.
Cole: Do you know where you will be starting the 2008 season?
Ramirez: I think I'm going to start in Double-A.
Ramirez recovering from injury
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