Marlins Notes: Ramirez, Granderson, Herrera

Harold Ramirez isn’t necessarily a household name. You won’t see him in any preseason top prospect reports and would have to go back before the 2016 season to even see him listed at the tail end of the top-100’s, coming in at 95th from Baseball America and 80th from Baseball Prospectus. It would be logical to assume that the reason for his lack of sustained recognition would stem from a lack of sustained success, but that’s simply not the case at all.  Immediately following his recognition prior to the 2016 season, he went on to slash .311/.360/.407 as a 21-year-old in Double-A, but regardless, he was left off of most lists prior to the 2017 season. The 2017 season wasn’t his finest work, as he didn’t necessarily perform up to his standards with a .266/.320/.358 batting line, resulting in him being removed from the Toronto Blue Jays 40-man roster and somehow going unclaimed on waivers, despite bringing with him minor-league option heading into his age-23 season.

He made the other 29 teams regret not sparing the $50,000 waiver fee during the 2018 season, however, as he slashed .320/.365/.471 with a career-high 11 home runs and 16 stolen bases en route to the Eastern League batting title. Keep in mind, while 2018 was his third season in Double-A, he was still 1.3 years younger than the average player in the league. While you would think that the Blue Jays would count their blessings after retaining Ramirez despite removing him from the 40-man roster, they allowed him to leave as a minor-league free agent, as he signed with the Miami Marlins. In Toronto’s defense, they did make him a $32,000 offer which was higher than the Marlins’ $25,000 offer, but all of that could have been avoided had the Blue Jays simply added him back to their 40-man roster.

Earlier in the offseason, I had Ramirez listed as the 16th best minor-league free agent, and he did nothing but improve his stock as the offseason pressed on. Over 185 plate appearances in the foreign winter leagues, he hit an absolutely incredible .381/.459/.566 and then continued that success with a .355/.408/.591 batting line over his first 120 plate appearances in Triple-A. This was my scouting report on Ramirez from when the Marlins signed him:

“Finally, another one of my top-25 guys landed with the Miami Marlins, as Harold Ramirez inked a minors deal. While Ramirez doesn’t walk a ton, nor does he have much in terms of power, he’s fresh off of a season in which he won the Eastern League’s batting title for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. I would expect him to begin the season in Triple-A New Orleans playing in the outfield alongside fellow top-25 outfielder Gabriel Guerrero, as well as Magneuris Sierra and Braxton Lee. My projections have him slashing .228/.275/.343 over a 93-game sample size, stealing ten bases and hitting five homers, but I don’t expect him to spend much time in the majors, as he’s never even played at Triple-A. Once he gets his feet wet there, the 24-year-old could become a candidate to carve out a long-term role, whether it be as a starter or even a strong fourth outfielder. One area in which he needs to improve, however, is plate discipline. He needs to get his projected walk rate above 6 percent.”

About six months later, my opinion is still similar, but one thing that I have been encouraged by is the fact that he has shown an increase in power over the past year that was sustained through his stint in winter ball, as well as during his first month-plus in Triple-A. As for the projection, I’d take the over on the batting average based on his success in Triple-A. When I ran the projection, I had used a 0.9 multiplier seeing as how he had never played above Double-A. I hope that he is able to prove my projection wrong, because if anybody deserves continued success after being continuously overlooked despite solid performance, it’s him. I think the 24-year-old outfielder has a very realistic chance of becoming a long-term piece for the Marlins outfield and should see an increase in playing time after Curtis Granderson is inevitably traded.

As a side note, despite the poor batting average, Grandy has had some absolutely abysmal luck this season with a .213 BABIP. Regardless of all that, however, he’s still a source of runs, having driven in 11 runs and scoring 12 while hitting four homers. On top of that, he’s one of the most respected veterans in the league with a ton of postseason experience. Based on all of this, I expect there to be a reasonable level of demand for his services come June/July, and while the return won’t be anything to write home about, the Fish should be able to get a minor leaguer who ranks in the 30’s within an organization’s prospect rankings. I could see the Cleveland Indians, Boston Red Sox, Seattle Mariners, and Los Angeles Angels serving as potential landing spots. These are some speculative returns that Grandy could draw:

  • Cleveland: Right-handed relief pitcher Dalbert Siri (Double-A, 23 years old)
  • Boston: Starting pitching prospect Alexander Montero (Short Season, 21 years old)
  • Seattle: Right-handed relief pitcher Collin Kober (Class A Advanced, 24 years old)
  • Los Angeles (AL): Center fielder Brandon Sandoval (Double-A, 24 years old)

One debate that has sprung up on Twitter regarding the Ramirez call-up, however, is who the roster casualty will be, and I have noticed a lot of people mentioning Rosell Herrera. I am going to go on record as saying that would be a very poor choice for the Fish to make at this time. While Herrera’s bottom line numbers haven’t been great, as he has slashed just .203/.280/.243 over 82 plate appearances, that doesn’t tell the whole story. Herrera has actually been producing at a much higher level over the past few weeks, as he has hit .281/.378/.313 over his last 15 games, and .313/.450/.313 over the past seven.

Furthermore, his .254 BABIP suggests that he could be in line for some further improvement. Meanwhile, he has played very strong defense at shortstop and left field, roughly average defense in right and below average, but still palatable defense in center with just one error in 30 chances on the year. The bottom line here is that while Herrera isn’t going to be the center fielder of the future in Miami, I consider him to be a strong candidate to have a solid career as a super utility player. While a super utility player may not seem to be that important, each of the last few World Series teams had with them somebody like that who was instrumental in their success, whether it was Brock Holt, Tommy La Stella, or Marwin Gonzalez.

Versatility is key in a 162-game season and the potential extra month of the playoffs. Herrera has been a guy who has taken some time to adjust to each level that he has played at throughout his career, therefore, I firmly believe his recent success is indicative of some level of discovery. If the Marlins cut ties with Herrera now, he could be another guy added to the list of great “former Marlins”.

Leave a Reply