October 20, 2014 at 7:30 AM
Past entries in our Top 40 Season in Review series can be found here.
#30: Noe Ramirez, RP
2014 Teams: Portland Sea Dogs, Pawtucket Red Sox (playoffs only)
Final Stats: 67 1/3 IP, 2-1, 18 SV, 2.14 ERA, 56 H, 17 R/16 ER, 16 BB, 56 K, 1.07 WHIP
Season in Review: Ramirez began the year back in Portland, where he had finished his breakout 2013 campaign, and picked up right where he had left off. He was a model of consistency for the loaded Sea Dogs, leading all Red Sox minor leaguers with 18 saves. He never really faced any particular bouts of ineffectiveness, but his most effective stretch came from the end of April through early August, when he allowed just six runs, five earned, on 30 hits and 10 walks over 44 2/3 innings in 26 appearances, good for a 1.01 ERA and 0.90 WHIP. Ironically, Ramirez took the loss in his only appearance in the Eastern League playoffs for Portland, allowing two inherited runners to score in the eighth and allowing three unearned runs in the ninth as the Sea Dogs fell to Binghamton in game two of their series. He was promoted to Pawtucket on September 5, and made one appearance in the International League playoffs, allowing one run over three innings in a PawSox loss to Durham. - Chris Hatfield
Scouting Report and 2015 Outlook: Ramirez does not have standout stuff or an impressive profile, but he knows how to pitch and has a three-pitch mix that will play out of the bullpen. Ramirez utilizes a funky delivery, throwing from a low arm slot and slinging the ball, making him especially tough for right-handed hitters to pick up. Ramirez’s fastball works in the 89-91 mph range, topping out at 92 mph. The pitch shows arm-side run and is very difficult to square up when he keeps it down in the zone. His best secondary pitch is a solid-average changeup that shows depth and late finish at 82-84 mph. He also mixes in a slider, which can get slurvey at times and still needs refinement. The pitch lacks tilt, but out of the bullpen he only really needs to use it to steal a strike or keep hitters honest, so it will not have to reach the same level as his changeup. Ramirez is eligible for the Rule 5 draft this December, and is on the bubble to be protected. He has the profile, however, of someone who could stick with another team for the year as a sixth or seventh member of a bullpen. If he stays with the Red Sox, Ramirez will start 2015 with Pawtucket where he will look to fine-tune his command and consistency from outing to outing. With a good start, he could position himself for his first big league call-up during the season should the need arise. - Ian Cundall
#29: Luis Diaz, SP
2014 Teams: Portland Sea Dogs, Salem Red Sox
Final Stats: 145 IP, 9-7, 3.54 ERA, 142 H, 65 R/57 ER, 44 BB, 111 K, 1.28 WHIP
Season in Review: After a brief end-of-season call-up to Salem in 2013, Diaz returned to Salem to start this year. He went on to split his season evenly between High-A and Double-A, making 13 regular season starts at each level. In Salem, he had a few rough starts peppered among stretches of success. With the Portland rotation stacked, it did not look like there would be room for Diaz to move up, but when Miguel Pena was suspended for 100 games on June 16, it opened up a spot, and the 22-year-old Venezuelan was promoted the next day. Diaz left Salem with a 6-3 record, posting a 3.33 ERA, allowing 71 hits and 18 walks in 67 2/3 innings, striking out 48.
After moving up to Portland, Diaz initially found success, in his first seven starts, Diaz went 44 2/3 innings, notching a 2.82 ERA, striking out 40 and walking just 10. The wheels came off as Diaz struggled to a 7.06 ERA in his next four starts, but he recovered with two strong starts heading into the Sea Dogs' playoff series against Binghamton. After going at least five innings in each of his 13 regular season starts, Diaz was unable to finish the fourth in his lone playoff start against Binghamton, getting touched for seven runs in 3 2/3 innings in the Mets' series-clinching win in game five. In all, Diaz went 3-4 with a 3.72 ERA in Portland, allowing 71 hits and 26 walks in 77 1/3 innings while striking out 63. - Chris Hatfield
Scouting Report and 2015 Outlook: Diaz just finished his sixth season in the system, but he put himself onto the radar last season when his velocity kicked up to the low-90s regularly and he showed the ability to touch 95. The right-hander throws from an over-the-top arm slot, and this year he showed an ability to work deep into games, particularly after his promotion. He possesses good control, but does not really miss bats. After striking out 8.8 batters per nine in Greenville last year, he saw that mark drop to 5.5 in Salem. Although he improved on the latter mark, it does appear that the former was an aberration, as he posted marks of 6.4 and 7.3 strikeouts per nine with Salem and Portland, respectively, this year. For secondaries, Diaz throws a changeup and curve, with the changeup the better of the two, eliciting swing-and-misses at times this year at 80-81 mph. The curve sits in the mid-70s, with 12-to-6 break. When successful, he shows great control of all three pitches, and he will need to do so to continue having success, as none of the three stand out. Diaz is eligible for the Rule 5 draft for the second time. A year older and closer to the majors, the chances that he will be selected are certainly better, but he is still sitting on the bubble, at best, to be protected. Unless he is left unprotected and some other organization takes a shot at slotting Diaz into the back of its major league bullpen, he will begin 2015 back in Portland. - Chris Hatfield
Additional editorial support provided by Norm Cimon.
Photo Credit: Both by Kelly O'Connor.