HAROLD RAMIREZ, CENTER FIELDER
|Born: September 6, 1994
Height: 5′ 11″
Signed: Int. FA, Pittsburgh Pirates, 2011
How Acquired: Int. FA
WTM’S PIRATE PLAYER PROFILES
|The Pirates gave Ramirez, at age 16, the second highest bonus they’ve given to a Latin American prospect, after Luis Heredia. He has a broad frame and thick legs, but nevertheless has outstanding speed. He also has the potential to have a very good bat, and could stay in center, although his arm is fringy.
The Pirates sent both Ramirez and Elvis Escobar, their other top international signing from 2011, straight to the GCL, which is a challenging assignment for a 17-year-old. Ramirez missed the first month with a leg infection. Once he was able to play he got off to a good start, but he slumped in August, batting .197 with one walk and 11 Ks. He had a very low walk rate on the season, but his K rate wasn’t bad. He split his time between left and right, with Escobar in center.
Ramirez took a step forward in the New York-Penn League. In fact, he was one of the league’s top hitters until an August slump (209/294/319) dropped his numbers. Ramirez hit for decent power and showed more patience than he had the previous year. He takes a big swing, though, and some scouts question how well he’ll hit more advanced pitching. He stole a lot of bases, but not with a good percentage of success. Ramirez saw significant time at all three outfield positions, most often in center. He struggled with LHPs for some reason, posting only a .672 OPS against them. Of course, all of this has to be considered in light of the fact that he played the season at age 18. Probably in part due to him succeeding as one of the NYPL’s youngest players, Baseball America named him the league’s top prospect.
Ramirez became part of West Virginia’s outfield wipeout when, in the fourth game of the year, he injured a hamstring running to first just two plays after Barrett Barnes had done the exact same thing. Austin Meadows had already suffered a hamstring injury in spring training. Ramirez returned a week into May and played until the beginning of July, when he went out for the rest of the year with shin splints. When he was able to play, he put up largely the same numbers he had the previous year, which is a good showing for a 19-year-old in full season ball. In the field, Ramirez divided his time between center and right.
The Pirates planned to send Ramirez to Bradenton, but they held him out of game action through most of spring training due to dissatisfaction with his conditioning. He finally reported to the Marauders in late May and immediately started hitting. He didn’t qualify for the batting title, as he also missed time playing for Team Colombia in the Pan American Games. Counting all players with over 200 plate appearances, though, he easily led the Florida State League in batting, and was second in OBP and fourth in slugging. He made significant progress with his power — especially considering the FSL’s power-suffocating environment — as well as his walk and strikeout rates. Ramirez had only a mild home/road split — .879 OPS at home, .827 on the road — so his hitting can’t be attributed to McKechnie Field, which is probably the FSL’s best hitters park. He had a reverse platoon split, .877 against RHPs and .785 against LHPs. He wasn’t exactly an efficient base stealer, but the Pirates at least think he has the speed to make it worth trying. He played right field almost exclusively.
Ramirez was added to the 40-man roster during the off-season to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. He’ll be in Altoona in 2016 and it’d be good if he could finally put in a full season. He’ll play the season at age 21, which is young for AA.
|2016: Minor League Contract|
|Signing Bonus: $1,050,000
MiLB Debut: 2012
MLB Debut: N/A
MiLB FA Eligible: N/A
MLB FA Eligible: N/A
Rule 5 Eligible: 2015
Added to 40-Man: 11/20/2015
Options Remaining: 2 (USED: 2016)
MLB Service Time: 0.000
|July 2, 2011: Signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates as an international free agent.
November 20, 2015: Contract purchased by the Pittsburgh Pirates.