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January 24, 2015 at 5:02 PM

Rookie Dev Program notes: Ramos healthy, Swihart looks back

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- After missing more than half of the 2014 season with a leg injury, Henry Ramos (pictured) is “physically healthy” after playing winter ball in Puerto Rico this offseason, according to Director of Player Development Ben Crockett, who spoke about Ramos at the Red Sox Rookie Development Program last week.

“Just from what we’ve seen here, he’s been running well with Mookie [Betts] and Rusney [Castillo] and Sean Coyle, right up at the front of the pack with those guys every day,” Crockett said of Ramos.

Ramos fouled a ball off of his leg and left the game on May 28 last season, subsequently being diagnosed with a stress fracture in his left tibia. He would miss the remainder of the season. 

After rehabbing the injury, the 22-year-old played 32 games in winter ball in his native Puerto Rico this winter. Understandably rusty, he posted a .217/.317/.264 line.

“I think from a positive standpoint, he was able to make up a lot of at-bats this winter and try to kind of pick back up where he left off,” Crockett said. “Winter ball’s been a huge positive for him. I think it really helped him grow as a player, being around older players, being in a very competitive environment down there. I think certainly we would have liked to see him [play more in the regular season] last year, the injury didn’t allow it, we hope in 2015 we can get him back and right back on track where he left off which was a really positive start to Double-A.”

Ramos was enjoying a breakout year, possibly his best professional to date, when he was sidelined with the leg injury. In 48 games with Double-A Portland, Ramos hit .328/.370/.433. The injury came at an especially unfortunate time for the outfielder, who was in the midst of a surge, batting .384 with a .953 OPS in his last 24 games before hitting the disabled list. At the time of the injury, Ramos ranked seventh in batting average in the Eastern League. Crockett noted some of the improvements he saw from Ramos in 2014.

“I think an improved consistency at the plate, that was the biggest thing,” Crockett said. “He was managing at-bats well, staying within himself very well, his power from both sides particularly the right side … but the consistency of the swing and the preparation have continually improved as he’s matured.”


Another player looking to follow up on a big 2014 is Blake Swihart, who hit .293/.341/.469 in 110 games between Double-A and Triple-A. Swihart will begin the 2015 season in Pawtucket, where he hit .261 with five extra-base hits in 18 games last year.

“I think continued progress,” Crockett responded when asked what he and the front office staff wanted to see out of Swihart in the upcoming season. “I think each year he’s become more refined in his entire game.

"At the plate it’s a lot about consistency, it’s a lot about staying within himself and staying with the approach he needs at the plate to be successful. Attacking pitches when he can, something you saw improvement on over the course of the year at Double-A last year, in terms of the pitches he was swinging at and the confidence he had in the box.”

Swihart feels the area where he made the most strides in 2014 was on the mental side of the game.

“Just the knowledge of catching,” Swihart said was his biggest improvement over the past year. “I was new [to catching] when I came in, and now that I’m more grown into it, I’ve developed in overall aspects. I know how to call pitches now, I know how to get chemistry with pitchers, and that’s what it takes just to get your chemistry going and get your feet wet and have things run smoothly.”

“Some of the biggest challenges he had once he got to Triple-A last year [were] just learning the entire staff and really focusing his energy on the defensive side,” Crockett said. “When [players] get called up to the major leagues for the first time, [there] are the kind of basic expectations the staff is looking for; reliable, consistent defense; knowing what you’re supposed to be doing; knowing where you’re supposed to be; and obviously that’s amplified behind the plate where you’re trying to lead a starter or a guy you may not have have caught.”

Photo credit: Henry Ramos by Kelly O'Connor

Katie Morrison is a staff writer for SoxProspects.com. Follow her on Twitter @katiemo61.