June 14, 2012 at 8:00 AM
Greenville right-hander Noe Ramirez claims to be a slow-starter, but he introduced himself to professional baseball in a way that shows he’s anything but. Ramirez retired all 15 batters he faced in Greenville’s 4-3 loss to Hickory Sunday, striking out five in five perfect innings in a debut that Ramirez couldn’t wait to arrive.
“It was definitely a confidence builder, something I can build on as time goes on,” he said when reached by phone Tuesday. “In the past, in my very first outings of the year in college or high school, I usually struggle a little bit staying in the zone. This time around, when I got up to the mound, it was a very different feeling I had. Everything just went great.”
Ramirez credited the pitch-calling of catcher Blake Swihart and his three-pitch mix—a two-seam fastball, changeup, and slider—for keeping the Crawdads, who “had some studs” in their lineup, at bay. He was particularly pleased with his slider, which he said he really worked on in the offseason.
“That game, it just showed how my hard work has paid off,” he said. “My slider was just on. It’s a confidence builder that I know I need to keep progressing and move on to the higher levels. So far, I’m on the right track. I threw pretty well, but it’s not something I should really be super high on. It’s just one outing. I’ve got to keep working hard.”
Even so, the wait leading up to Ramirez’s first outing was longer than expected. A fourth-round pick in 2011 out of Cal State-Fullerton who signed on the Aug. 15 deadline for $625,000, Ramirez spent the spring and early part of the season in Fort Myers rehabbing shoulder and elbow injuries. Along with some weakness in his shoulder, Ramirez dealt with a minor injury to his ulnar collateral ligament, which is the ligament replaced in Tommy John surgery.
“It wasn’t even a big deal,” he said. “I just felt a little something in there. I let them know, and they told me how big a deal it is, even if it’s a little twinge on one pitch. That’s what it was. I’m just glad I told them early and we took care of it right away. They did a great job.”
He started throwing over a month ago, and turned in a debut to remember. He said his family and friends back in California gathered at his brother’s house to listen to the game and have a barbeque to celebrate the occasion.
“My mom started crying when my outing was over,” he said. “It just shows we have a lot of passion for baseball. It was a big deal for every member of my family; same thing with my friends, my high school and my city.”
Jon Meoli is a Senior Columnist for SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonMeoli.