Another Seven Figure Bonus Player Missing Time Due to Conditioning

Harold Ramirez is currently on the rehab list at Pirate City since the start of camp. Ramirez has been working out in the mornings, but hasn’t played in any games yet. Pirates’ Director of Minor League Operations Larry Broadway said that Ramirez is currently out so that he can be better conditioned before he gets on the field. Last week we reported that Luis Heredia is behind in camp due to his conditioning.

Ramirez was slated to go to Bradenton this year, with the season starting in a little over two weeks. Broadway said that “time will tell” if he’s ready for the start of the season. Ramirez said it’s possible he could get back into games on Wednesday, but is unsure of that right now.

“I need to play first, right here in Spring Training,” Ramirez said on whether he could be ready for the start of the season.

When I asked what he was working on specifically, Ramirez said that he “needs to be athletic.” The outfielder did miss some time last year with a hamstring injury, then missed additional time with a stress reaction in his shin. He did play winter ball this off-season, but did not do well, hitting .200/.333/.229 in 70 at-bats. He started his season in Colombia late, then was hit by a pitch in his first place appearance and missed a couple of weeks, so he didn’t get in a full winter season.

Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.

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Jeff Rhodes

I actually find these reports comforting. I might feel differently if Heredia and Ramirez were grossly out of shape, but take a look at the picture above. Does that look like someone who spent the offseason sitting on the couch eating Cheetos? Likewise, a week before Tim disclosed Heredia was being held back, he noted how good he looked.

That’s no knock on Tim. To the untrained eye, both actually look pretty fit, and maybe a different organization wouldn’t have made anything of it. But the Pirates are holding their players to a higher standard, and that’s a positive thing.

Rather than treating the players like criminals for reporting to camp five pounds over their specified weight or unable to do as many reps on the bench press as they were expected to do, I prefer salute the team for making no exceptions for high-profile prospects.

Again, neither player looks to me like this process will take a significant amount of time. In a week or two, they’ll move on to their respective teams with a better appreciation of what’s expected of them. It’s all part of the process of maturing as a person and a player, and I suspect these situations are quite common with every team.

In the past, it’s just that no one bothered to report them, whereas today we have bloggers who beat the bushes to bring us every excruciating detail.

Take a valium, people. You’re missing the larger, positive story just so you can wallow in negativity for no good reason.

IC Bob

I think we may be reading to much into some of these things. It could be that the players are rehabbing an injury but the team doesn’t want to discuss it or the player doesn’t want to admit it (players don’t want to considered wusses). The Pirates have always been less then forthright in some of what they do and say especially when it comes to injuries. It could be that Ramirez is still having issues with his hammy and they are making sure he spends extra time rehabbing it before he goes out on the field. The same could be true with Heredia a far as a shoulder or elbow pain). If I hear that the Pirate management come out and announce they are upset with the condition of any of the ball players, I will be more concerned. All I hear now is that some guys are working on the side doing some conditioning work (which could be a rehab of some sort that they do not want to discuss).

John Dreker

Well, the questions were asked because the players in question are going through the drills, but not up to the same speed as everyone else. In both cases, we went to the player and the person in charge(Larry Broadway) for explanations of their situation. The only assumption is that they are telling the truth. I’m not sure a player would rather it be reported that they were out of shape as opposed to nursing a minor injury.
There are other players down there not playing because they are injured and in each case, the explanation was that they were injured, so not sure why they would pick and choose who they are honest about under your scenario. With Connor Joe for example, he isn’t injured, but he is listed that way because he isn’t up to game speed and that is because he is taking it slow due to missed time from an injury. That isn’t the case with Ramirez or Heredia.


I have no idea if this applies to the current situation, but if anyone didn’t see it Steve Brault who came to the Pirates in the Snider trade did an Ask Me Anything on Reddit and this exchange stuck out for me.


Interesting. I would imagine he is also talking about players he was with in Oriole organization. Not everyone has the same drive to succeed. You can see that in any walk of life.


I just found the general idea interesting that a player admitted despite the massive potential reward, the minor leagues function like most other walks of life, maybe I’m naive. Then again I’m not sure if you were designing a development system from scratch you’d give out seven figure bonus then leave the players to their own devices for five to six months of the year.

Luke sutton

Seems surprising…but really as i think of it more it becomes less so. You have really young guys on their own for the first time. Them acting not so different than most people seems about right, since even with a huge reward they are human. Some will act dumb, some will slack juuuust a bit, some will be smart enough to put it all into their work.

I cant really say for sure what i’d do if i got drafted and sent to A ball where i was on my own, doing what i loved and was considered a big deal. I hope i’d be the shining example, buuuut i’d guess i’d likely learn a few things about independence.


Good point. The Pirates organization is extremely strict and spend a lot time with the education of their young prospects. They educate their draft picks- professionalism, economics, media, training methods etc, “Pirates Way”. So, these guys are educated right off the bat. But, some get it and some don’t!

Luke sutton

I swear to everything holy if this fan base starts saying “Pirate Way” like the Cardinals do imma revolt. It does seem PIT holds its young guys to a higher conditioning standard than other teams.

Pirate Fan

Cardinals are an “old school” organization with a tremendous amount of success over the years. They are an organization that has stock piled top pitching prospects- build within! Seems to be working for them Luke. “If it ain’t broke don’t fit it mentality”

Luke sutton
Luke sutton

I have respect for the success and process that STL uses to win. It works, its solid and the members of the team are scouted and developed well. Good model, and i never really spoke badly of the process they use. Maybe you read into that something that you wanted to.

Acting like, because you run things well and are a solid model for sustaining success, you invented that is conceited and dickish. The reason many non NL central fans dislike STL isnt because they win….its because they act as if their model was invented in STL and they are choir boys. They only do things the right way and preach all the right things. And thats great….but its not reality and sounds full of yourself when you say it so often. STL has just as many oddballs and porn watchers as the rest of us.

Great team, well run organization, not a reason to create the idea that the “team way” is special or holy. Let the process talk, dont keep acting like “Cardinal way” perfected baseball. When you do that, it makes you look really stupid if a player drives drunk and things go bad.


Wise beyond your years, Luke.

Nobody – nobody – likes the guy who is so full of himself that he thinks he’s entitled to calling anything a “…Way”.

Trust me, I’m a Penn State grad.

Pirate Fan

Why not, it’s been working! They hold all their guys to higher standards and accountable-whats wrong with that concept? The Pirates organization used to be a joke!

Luke sutton

Because you sound full of yourself when you say it. Its self centered “oh look at how well we do things” when you can easily just let the process speak for itself. Nothing wrong with the concept, a good deal wrong with fans throwing it in others face as if they invented the idea of high standards and accountability. Its why a ton of fan dislike STL fans, because they act like they invented playing baseball “the right way”.


I just find it a bit surprising players aren’t responding to incentives, then again given the likelihood of success maybe that is a rational approach.


Tim. You have this guy in your top 20 prospects! This guy is NOT a true professional or he would have come to camp in shape. Can’t stay healthy! Tools or not he is digging himself into a huge hole- NOT GOOD! If they didn’t have money tied up in him he would be gone. That being said, “time to move-on”

Luke sutton

Not in shape and wanting a guy to be better conditioned arent always the same thing. Heck, recent additions like Tarpley admitted that PIT does a good deal more running than other teams like BAL, so its entirely possible PIT places a high regard on being in very good shape and some guys come into ST not meeting certain criteria. Not a good situation, but phrasing it as “he isnt in shape” seems to be painting with a broad stroke. Drops in the rankings for it sure, but immature? Eh.


Yes, immature.

Kid is 20 years old. You should *expect* 20 year olds to have maturation left.

I’m sure Ramirez is a fine kid and committed to the game, but that doesn’t mean he also doesn’t need to mature. Think about what Tony Sanchez has said about himself recently.

Luke sutton

Thats fair, there is a distinction for me between immature and unprofessional. Plenty of guys are immature and need to figure that out before realizing the potential they have. But a good number of those young and immature guys arent unprofessional in the sense that they dont take seriously their task. I think continually maturing is a huge part of a player’s life his entire career, the great ones continue to mature either off the field or on the field in how they handle the game.

Pirate Fan

Today’s professional baseball players should have an understanding of posting up in better physical condition then maybe those of yester years-more economics involved. Spring training was used as a means to get in baseball shape years ago but, not today, so much more competition- baseball is a WORLD game today.Today’s training techniques are so much more specialized and advanced. Especially, some one that is as unproven as he is in his young professional career. Immature may not have been the correct word- “young professional” may be a better choice of words.He has an obligation and commitment to the Pirates organization and Pirates fans(ultimately they paid his bonus) to take a more professional approach in his preparation.The Pirates give their prospects so many vehicles to maximize their god given abilities. The rankings are not the Pirates organization ranking so, I don’t put a lot of stock in them but, the pirates prospect readers have no other means to measure a prospect. I have professional athletes of all sports in my training center over the off-season so, I see first hand, how true professionals approach their upcoming season- guys from a lot of different baseball organizations busting their butts- high picks to low picks. Ready to “rip” in spring training.

Luke sutton

Yeah, im sure we can paint with broad strokes and call every guy similar and that if a guy at age 22 doesnt show up in peak shape he is lazy. Or we could maybe allow for grey area. Yeah, the kids are unproven in that they arent ML ready. Yeah, they need to work hard. You take a pretty big leap in saying that if a kid shows up and the team wants him in better shape, it means pretty clearly that he isnt in good shape and doesnt work hard.

He has an obligation to be a professional, and you havent seen anything to prove otherwise other than him not being in the shape PIT wants him. Kid could have done his normal routine, not realized that doesnt cut it with this org in terms of being where they want him, and shown up in shape but not where the team wants it. Spare me the “its unprofessional” idea that any player who isnt in BSOHL every year didnt try hard.

Pirate Fan

He’s not a ROOKIE. He is a high priced prospect. Don’t have to see it. It’s been identified by the organization. The Pirates aren’t a grey area organization- they spell it out day one! I think I said, “more professional approach”.

Luke sutton

High priced or not, im trying to point out to you that each player is human. Any organization that isnt aware that a high priced 22 year old will make mistakes is dumb, and PIT clearly has no real “issue” with the guys. They keep them back to get into what the team wants conditioning wise, and set them free. You phrase it as if the guys are acting in a way that is unprofessional and the team punished them and was upset. I dont see that.

Will Sanchez

so Panda,Fielder, Et al are “so immature about being a professional athlete”

Pirate Fan

No! Those guys are proven guys. Maybe, off-season LAZY is a better choice of words. Not sure what your point is- but they have a lot of trouble staying healthy during the season though.

Bill Kline

I think it comes down to playing style. Those guys can be bigger as they’re power infielders. Ramirez, as an outfielder has to have some finesse to him.

John Dreker

Ramirez is ranked 11th due to his potential at the plate, on the bases and on defense. He is a natural hitter, that can steal bases and play center field. The rankings were obviously done before this happened and if the crystal ball told us he wouldn&#8 217;t be ready for the season due to conditioning issues, he would&#8 217;ve dropped in the rankings. He is actually ranked lower at 11 than most and that is due to his injury history. Some have him as high as #8 in the system and if he is healthy, he has the potential to be even better.

Pirate Fan

I get that John. Personal opinion, would like to see the rankings based on proven professional results and current professional tools- I guy gets drafted by the Pirates and leap frogs all the currently ranked prospects based on unproven professional tools. It kind of makes the rankings questionable. Just my opinion.

Mick Kraut

So presumably Ramirez and Heredia were the only two players who didn’t show up to Spring Training in the best shape of their lives?

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