February 25, 2013 at 6:49 AM
2013 Projected Team: Salem Red Sox
Opening Day Age: 23
Development Needs: Ramirez walks a fine line with his fastball. Sitting 89-91 mph when working as a starter, the pitch needs to consistently operate in the lower tier of the strike zone to be effective. The righty has to be extremely selective when elevating it above the mid-thighs, where the offering can be flat and lack late life. As Ramirez progresses into the upper minors, his command is going to be strongly tested in a starter’s role. He’s the type of pitcher who is around the plate and gives up a lot of contact with the heater. His other secondary offering, a slider, lags behind the changeup. The pitch presently isn’t very tight and tends to hang within the strike zone. Ramirez is inconsistent producing the type of late bite that will get more advanced hitters to chase the pitch. Without a look that changes the angle, both his fastball and change become more predictable multiple times through a lineup. Overall, Ramirez’s profile points towards a projection as a bullpen arm.
2013 Outlook: Ramirez will take the next step up the ranks this season and continue his development in the Carolina League. This assignment will be a good test of how his fastball command is trending, along with continuing the work to stretch him out in a starter’s role and build stamina. Given Ramirez’s level of polish, I see him having a relatively easy time making the adjustment to the step up in competition, but there will be refinement necessary over the course of the year to limit the amount of contact he gives up against the more advanced hitters. The right-hander should be able to post consistent results over the long haul of the 2013 season at this level. Most of Ramirez’s work will center on sharpening his arsenal as much as possible before taking the next step up to Double-A. It will be here that he’ll endure his biggest challenge as a professional, with that test beginning either later in the summer this season or in 2014.
2012 Teams: Portland Sea Dogs/Pawtucket Red Sox
2013 Projected Team: Pawtucket Red Sox
Opening Day Age: 26
2013 Outlook: Butler finished off the 2012 season in Triple-A and is set to return to the level to continue to put the finishing touches on his overall game in 2013. At this point, much of his development is centered on the finer points of the game. Butler is likely to handle the catching duties in a rotation at Pawtucket, with it being important for him to make the most of his opportunity and show that he has the potential to help at the major league level in some capacity. The catcher presently serves as organizational depth this season, but enters the year lower on the depth chart. I don’t expect him to play much of a part, unless the catching corps is decimated with injuries over the course of 2013. Butler is tasked with proving he is deserving of a major league look and can also showcase his skills to other organizations given that catching is at a premium across baseball. It’s likely that the catcher provides insurance for the organization for the entire season, but he could be included in a deal to help the big club shore up other areas of need later in the year.
Photo Credits: Noe Ramirez and Dan Butler by John Corneau
Chris Mellen is Director of Scouting for SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisMellen