Sunday, November 16, 2014

Random Ex-Brave: Horacio Ramirez

Sundays during the season, I randomly report on a minor league baseball player in the Braves system. However, I find that a little ridiculous during the offseason, but I still like the idea of discussing a random ballplayer. So, let's go back through the last 25 years or so and look at random Braves, both important and not. Today: Not All That Important.

I mean...Horacio Ramirez! Or HoRam. Or Chuck James before Chuck James. Or Damian Moss before Damian Moss. Or generic random lefty with a moderate amount of early success. 

Ramirez was drafted in 1997 out of Inglewood High School in California. He is still the only graduate of his high school to make it to the majors from the same school that Celtic great Paul Pierce graduated from. The 1997 draft was a forgetful one for John Schuerholz and his scouting department. Only four players selected from that draft made it to the majors and if you take out HoRam, that's all of 16 games. That could change because outfielder Cory Aldridge continues to seek a return trip to the majors (currently with the Blue Jays and playing winter ball), but anytime someone like Horacio Ramirez becomes the most productive major leaguer from a draft, you knew you had some big misses.

In the minors, Ramirez wasn't much of a prospect. Like many Braves pitchers in the late 90's, Ramirez did have some good numbers with Myrtle Beach, but his numbers were often not bad, but nothing set him apart from other more heralded pitchers except that he was left-handed. 

So, it was a surprise when Ramirez, who had not appeared above AA, jumped to the major league roster to open 2003. It was a perfect storm of crap that allowed for this to occur. The Braves had lost Tom Glavine to free agency, traded Kevin Millwood because Greg Maddux unexpectedly accepted arbitration, and had traded Moss for Russ Ortiz. The Braves were so concerned about their rotation that they had signed Shane Reynolds to add a "veteran presence" to the bottom of their staff. Also helping Ramirez was that the Braves, and notably Leo Mazzone, had tired of Jason Marquis. Ramirez did his job and pitched fairly well in camp and made the jump.

Ramirez's first season in the majors was best defined as "not awful" and that would be a consistent theme during Ramirez's time in Atlanta. He finished 2003 with 182.1 ING over 29 starts, including one complete game. His 4.71 FIP was a product of poor control and an inability to miss bats. Ramirez was counted on to be a cog at the bottom of Atlanta's rotation the following year, but injuries limited him to just 10 games, including nine starts. 

The left-hander from California came back in 2005 and pitched 202.1 ING, a career high. Such a career high that Ramirez would throw around 245 innings in the rest of his major league career. Ramirez also threw his final complete game and third overall. Plus, it was his only shutout as he limited the Cubs to just six hits in the first game of a double header. I recently blogged on what occurred in the second game. However, all was not roses with HoRam's 2005 campaign. He earned every bit of a 5.24 FIP, posting a 1.39 WHIP and a 1.4 HR/9. The Braves pitching posted a 3.98 ERA in 2005, good for sixth in the league, so I guess Ramirez wasn't terrible compared to the league.

Injuries limited Ramirez to 14 starts in 2006, though he wasn't good when he pitched anyway. After the season, Schuerholz made one of his notable trades during his final years when he shipped Ramirez to Seattle for Rafael Soriano. Clearly, the Mariners felt their rotation needed all the help they could find, but giving up Soriano for HoRam turned into a disaster for them. Soriano had a 0.98 WHIP in 162 games with the Braves while Ramirez...well, he sucked. I guess the number that really stands out to me is a 1.85 WHIP. It took the Mariners 20 starts to come to the conclusion that Ramirez probably shouldn't start for them.

Unsurprisingly, Ramirez was non-tendered and Dayton Moore was gleeful to sign him to the Royals. He was actually kind of successful in 15 games out of the pen and the Royals moved him to the White Sox in a waiver trade. Ramirez wasn't able to continue his success and a return trip to Kansas City in 2009 didn't help matters. After injuries took his 2010 season from him, Ramirez was able to get back to the majors with the Angels for 12 games to finish his major league career, but his 2.00 WHIP made it clear that Ramirez wasn't going to last long.

HoRam spent two years picking up some frequent travelling miles while playing in Korea, Mexico, the Atlantic League, plus a small stint in the Cubs system. His final start came on August 2nd, 2013 when he was the victor for Tigres de Quintana Roo in Mexican League action. 

Since retiring, Ramirez has returned to Atlanta as a coaching assistant who is in charge of instant replay protocol. Basically, the blueprint sees Fredi Gonzalez going out to shoot the shit with the umpire while a coach calls Ramirez to see if they should challenge the play on the field. Fredi was successful in 23-of-34 challenges last year so HoRam deserves credit for that.

Ultimately, Ramirez was a severely limited pitcher. He didn't have much velocity, nor great control, nor incredible stuff. He had guile and guts, but that will only get you so far. That "so far" ends up being short of 700 innings in the majors and a cushy coaching job after ending your career so that's pretty good. 

No comments:

Post a Comment