This series will look at prospects and show whether they are worth an investment on your fantasy team. Every owner knows that the secret to a strong minors system is knowing who to throw away and knowing who to keep. Each player featured in this series will be given one of the following recommendations:
- Hold ’em : If you own this prospect, hang tight. While times may seem rough, the talent is worth holding onto.
- Fold ’em : If you own this prospect, now is the time to sell while they may still have some name value.
- Walk Away: This prospect is not worth paying attention to in your league.
- Run: Get to the waiver wire immediately and put a claim in for this prospect.
Jason Kipnis was put on the disabled list with a sprained oblique and is expected to miss 3-5 weeks of action. Filling the void at second base for the Indians is 21-year-old, 5’9″ 165 lb Jose Ramirez. Let’s take a look at what value Jose Ramirez has for those in seasonal and dynasty leagues.
Jose Ramirez was signed by the Indians as a shortstop out of the Dominican Republic. He shot through the minors very quickly though over-shadowed by Francisco Lindor, Ronnie Rodriguez and Dorsyss Paulino (who has just been moved to the outfield). Although lacking power because of his size, Ramirez immediately showed excellent plate discipline to go with his plus speed. In his first full pro season against much older competition he put up numbers indicative of those tools.
Heading into 2013, Ramirez was put alongside Henry Owens as guys who just missed Keith Law’s Top 100 prospect list. At just 20 he played the full season in AA, and though his numbers were not as strong, he stole 38 bases with just 41 strikeouts in 482 at-bats. It was becoming clear that Jose Ramirez could handle the bat exceptionally well. He got a major league call-up in September and batted .333 in 12 at bats with a triple and 2 walks.
Here’s a look at Ramirez first major league triple, showing off some good left-handed gap power as well as his speed.
Ranked nowhere heading into 2014, Ramirez put up a monster-size AAA slash line of .319/.365/.484 as the youngest player in the International League (and second youngest AAA player in baseball to Javier Baez). His 4 home runs in 23 games were more than in any previous season, and his BB/K rate continued to be outstanding.
In his first week since being promoted to the majors, Ramirez has not found similar success. What he has done, however, is impress his teammates and his manager Terry Francona:
“That little [expletive] is all over the place,” said Indians manager Terry Francona. … “He can help us win.”
“When younger guys handle it appropriately, it can be very invigorating,” said Indians manager Terry Francona, who couldn’t hold back a smile when talking about the native of the Dominican Republic. “The enthusiasm that comes from younger guys can be really good. I know last year in September, everybody got a kick out of him because of the way he strutted around. I think he’s endeared himself to a lot of people quickly because of the way he’s play.”
Looking at Ramirez, one can’t help think of Jose Altuve as another good contact, speed second baseman of similar stature who also debuted at 21 years of age. Prior to his promotion, Altuve’s numbers in high A and AA were as follows:
Altuve has never displayed that power in Houston and looks to be settling in at the .280/.340/.400 mark with solid speed. Ramirez’s ceiling is very likely in that neighborhood. The difference for Ramirez is that he has no opportunity to take over the 2B position. With Jason Kipnis signed through 2019 with a club option for 2020 and uber-prospect Francisco Lindor knocking at the door at shortstop, Ramirez may end up in a super-utility role. The move of Paulino to the outfield increases the potential for Ramirez to have a long-term infield role, even if just marginally. With his ability to play 2B, SS, 3B and the outfield, to go with consistent contact and plus speed, Ramirez should be a good contributor to the Indians ball club for a long time.
Recommendation: Walk Away. I really like Ramirez and own him in a very deep keeper league, but would not hold him in any other circumstance. His relatively low ceiling combined with the smallest opportunity to achieve it make him someone to watch, but not roster. If given every day playing time the recommendation would be to hold, so watch for any trade or significant injury that could significantly change his future outlook.
Other Prospect Notes:
Gary Sanchez, C, NYY : At just 21 years of age, Sanchez is tearing up AA with a line of 301/396/494 while sporting a 12.5% BB rate and a 15.6 % K rate. Sanchez had a tough 2013 but looks to be rebounding nicely and could prove to be a valuable RHH power bat for the Yankees as soon as this year. 2014 Prospect Ranking in 2014: 50. Recommendation: Run
Arismendy Alcantara, 2B, Cubs: On the surface it looks pretty good for the Alcantara with Darwin Barney batting just .133 for the major league club. Arismendy is hitting .281/.301/.510 with 7 SB in AAA and looks to be on the brink of a promotion. While the power speed combination is intriguing at the MI slot, his 3 walks and 27 strikeouts so far in 2014 don’t bode well for his immediate success. Prospect Ranking in 2014: 72. Recommendation: Fold ‘Em
David Dahl, OF, Rockies: 20-year-old Dahl is destroying A ball with 8 home runs, 9 stolen bases and a .276/.317/.552 line so far in 2014. He had a disastrous 2013 campaign, but is living up to his draft hype now as true 5 tool talent. I ranked him aggressively going in to 2014 and he’s on track to raise his stock even further for 2015. Prospect Ranking in 2014: 44. Recommendation: Run
Robbie Ray, SP, Tigers: Twice this season I have been blessed to mention a Tigers prospect; I could quit now and have all of my writing aspirations met. Ray pitched a gem last night against the Astros, going 5.1 innings, allowing 5 hits, 1 walk, 1 run while striking out 5. The LHP retired 10 straight batters at one point and is looking like he’ll have one more start on Sunday. While ignored in top prospect lists heading into the season, Ray is looking like a future #3/#4 starter for the Tigers. Prospect Ranking in 2014: N/A. Recommendation: Hold ‘Em.
Gabriel Guerrero, OF, Mariners: Vladimir’s 20-year-old nephew is starting to show some of his power this year, hitting his 6th homerun last night. As you’d expect, he has excellent bat speed, but his plate discipline is a question mark. He could be an all-or-nothing prospect, but it’s hard to bet against those family genes. He needs to be watched carefully this year. Prospect Ranking in 2014: N/A. Recommendation: Hold ‘Em.
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