Brewers prospect Ramirez showcases significant power
Double-A first baseman impresses with middle-of-the-order potential at plate
In his senior year at Katella (Calif.) High School, Nick Ramirez hit .426 with 26 RBIs while pitching to a 10-1 record and an ERA of 1.16. He had 91 strikeouts in 84 innings pitched. Ramirez was the most valuable player in his league as well as being named to the All-Orange County team.
Hitting and pitching left-handed, Ramirez set school career records in home runs, doubles and RBIs.
Noted for his leadership ability and outstanding work ethic, Ramirez chose to attend California State University Fullerton, where he earned a fine reputation as both a power-hitting first baseman and as a pitcher.
Ramirez spent three years at Cal State in the Big West Conference and hit well. His best season was 2010, when he hit .346 in 260 at-bats covering 64 games. Ramirez hit 16 home runs and drove in 75 runs. His batting average on balls hit in play was .381.
In the summer of 2010, Ramirez was part of the USA Collegiate National Team, where his Fullerton head coach was serving as the team's pitching coach.
Clearly, Ramirez's ability in both high school and college drew the attention of Major League scouts. The Milwaukee Brewers selected him in the fourth round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft.
Ramirez has not pitched for the Brewers. In parts of four seasons in their Minor League system, he has played exclusively at first base.
Ramirez will be 25 years old in August. He's a big man at 6-foot-3, 225 pounds. Ramirez actually looks bigger due to his strong upper body.
I got to see Ramirez participate in the Home Run Derby and Double-A Southern League All Star Game recently held in Chattanooga, Tenn. With a 20-foot wall to clear in right field, he and other left-handed hitters in the contest had a tough time. But Ramirez made it through two rounds, missing out on the finals to the Cubs' Kris Bryant and the D-backs' Jon Griffin.
Ramirez's most advanced tool is his power hitting. He has hit double-digit home runs in each of his four seasons, including this year. Currently playing for the Huntsville Stars, Ramirez is on pace to hit well over 20 home runs. It would be the highest power production of his career. Ramirez finished the first half of this season tied for fourth in the league in home runs with 11 and in RBIs with 45. From April 25 thru April 30, Ramirez hit home runs in four of five games.
Using a bit of a long swing, strikeouts are an issue for Ramirez. Last season at Class A Advanced Brevard County, he struck out 171 times in 561 plate appearances in 134 games. Ramirez hit .258 with 19 home runs and 81 RBIs.
Ramirez has a tendency to pull the ball and might find some frustration if defenses employ a shift to the right side of the infield. He will have to learn to allow the ball to carry a bit deeper into the zone and hit pitches where they are thrown. Taking the pitch to the opposite field may diminish some of the home run potential, but it will offer more overall batting average success. Because Ramirez has solid power potential, if he can hit for average, he will find his place on a Major League roster.
Ramirez does have quick hands through the ball, so waiting back a bit won't detract from the loft or backspin he will get through his swing. His raw power is impressive and would always be welcome in the middle of the batting order.
Defensively, Ramirez does an adequate job as a first baseman. He has agility and athletic ability that allow him to get to balls and make all the essential plays. Ramirez has that former pitcher's arm strength that is a plus for him defensively as well.
Bernie Pleskoff has served as a professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. Follow @BerniePleskoff on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.