Position: Third Baseman Height: 6-4 Weight: 190
Born: 10/25/1985 Bats: Right Throws: Right
The Tigers outbid several teams for Ramirez' services prior to the 2003 season. At the tender age of 17, Ramirez impressed scouts and management with his solid debut in the Gulf Coast League. In his first taste of professional ball, Ramirez posted a .275/.321/.450 line that had the Tiger brass and fans buzzing. Heading into the 2004 season, Wilkin was slated to take "The Leap" towards stardom. That hope was shot down when Ramirez tore the labrum in his right shoulder, requiring surgery, and sidelining him for the entire campaign. Wilkin made it back in time to participate in the Fall Instructional League, where he displayed his offensive skills, announcing that he would be back in 2005. Despite some struggles in the field and some inconsistency from extensive time away from game action, Ramirez had a solid season in his first full season of professional ball. Playing third base and DH for the West Michigan Whitecaps, he showed flashes of brilliance off-set by bouts with inconsistency like most young players.
Ramirez is an outstanding natural athlete, with the work ethic to get the most out of his gift. Despite the mounting error totals, Wilkin has the potential to be a top tier fielder at the hot corner. Ramirez has quick feet, soft hands, average range, and above-average arm strength. While has the tools to become an elite defender, he may be pushed to an outfield corner if his bat develops enough. In the batter's box, Wilkin has possibly the most offensive potential of anyone in the entire organization. For a young player, Ramirez has a very advanced approach at the plate, knowing what he wants to accomplish before he steps in the box. He has a sound swing mechanically, with few holes, and the ability to adjust to breaking balls. He struggles a bit with pitch recognition and will chase balls out of the zone as he often gets over-anxious. As Ramirez continues to age and mature, his body is likely to add bulk and subsequently additional homerun power. Ramirez is an above-average runner with good instincts. He is likely to lose a little speed as he fills out, but he should remain a solid sprinter. Ramirez is one of the most purely gifted players in the Tiger organization, and the organization looks for him to take the next step soon.
Performance Level Team AB AVG 2B HR RBI SO BB OBP% SLG% A
Wilkin missed the entire 2004 season with a torn labrum in his right (throwing) shoulder. Ramirez's arm strength returned as the season went on, and as the playoffs neared, Wilkin was again flashing clothesline tosses across the diamond.
Despite some struggles at West Michigan, the Tigers will push Ramirez to High-A Lakeland in 2006. With the more hitter-friendly (although still not ideal) confines of the Florida State League, he could be in for a huge breakout season. Ramirez saw his patience improve late in the year, as he began to adjust to the more advanced pitchers he was facing. Wilkin will work diligently to continue his improvement both offensively and defensively, and with a solid season as one of the youngest players in the FSL, he could distinguish himself as not only the top hot corner prospect in the system, but also one of the top third baseman in the minor leagues.
Mark Anderson covers the Tigers' minor league system and all of minor league baseball for TigsTown.com. He can be reached at Mark@TigsTown.com.