Imagine you are 21 years old and you have a mid-90s fastball. You’re from Nicaragua and you were just a part of a package that was traded for a Cy Young Award winner. You go from the low-expectation world of the Seattle Mariners system to the two-time defending National League champions’ system. This story, of course, is that of J.C. Ramirez‘s 2009.
Fast-forward to early 2013: a 24-year old Ramirez has been designated for assignment, no longer protected on the Phillies 40-man roster. The two other players traded with Ramirez for Cliff Lee, right-handed pitcher Phillippe Aumont and outfielder Tyson Gillies, remained on the 40-man roster with Aumont starting the year on the active Phillies roster. Ramirez posted a 5.30 ERA with a .275 BAA for the IronPigs as a reliever through June 20 with 35 K in 37.1 IP.
Despite being removed for the 40-man roster and his less-than-stellar ERA, Ramirez was unexpectedly called into action for the Phillies on June 23 after several injuries thinned out the club’s relief corp. And for a while, the move paid off in spades. In his first appearance, Ramirez struck the side against the Mets and would follow this appearance with four more scoreless outings, including allowing no hits over two innings against the Padres on June 26.
The wheels fell off soon, however. Ramirez would allow an earned run in his next six appearances, ballooning his ERA from 0.00 to 7.43, most notably allowing five earned runs against the St. Louis Cardinals on June 24. The National League seemingly had the book on Ramirez.
Ramirez spent August with the IronPigs and performed exceptionally well, striking out nine in 11.2 IP, allowing zero earned runs with a 0.54 BAA. Ramirez returned to the Phillies on August 25 but struggled in infrequent use. Ramirez pitched in just seven games through the remainder of the year, allowing nine earned in 10.2 IP. Ramirez’s had a pretty electric 85 MPH slider but his 94 MPH fastball was hit pretty hard. For the season, Ramirez ended with a 7.50 ERA and 5.63 BB/9 IP with a 1.88 WHIP.
Grade: F. Despite his hot start in the Majors and the way he caught fire for the IronPigs in August, Ramirez was cumulatively pretty bad for the Phillies. And by pretty bad, I mean horrible. There were certainly flashes of potential and entering 2014, Ramirez at 25 will likely have an opportunity to crack the big squad but Ramirez was awful in 2013. As I wrote in September, Ramirez’s performance was a contributing factor in the failure that was the Cliff Lee trade. On September 5, I predicted Ramirez would be designated for assignment once again this off-season to clear room on the 40-man roster.