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The View from Behind the Backstop: Raphael Ramirez

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Raphael Ramirez was considered one of the toolsiest members of the Mets 2014 draft class. Let's check in on his progress in his first full professional season.

Gordon Donovan

Raphael Ramirez

CF, Kingsport  Mets (R)

Height, weight: 5'11", 185
Age (2015 season age): 19
Acquired: 18th round, 2014 ($150,000)
Date(s) seen: 6/27-6/28 vs. Bluefield Blue Jays: 3-10, R, 2 3B, 3 RBI, 3 K
2015: 120 PA, .216/.261/.333, 41 K / 6 BB

At the plate

Ramirez has a very pretty, rotational swing from the left side that got some scout comps to a young Curtis Granderson. He has some feel with the bat head, and generates good bat speed for his size due to strong, quick wrists. He goes with pitches and doesn't get too pull-happy, but he is quick inside, especially against right-handed pitching. Ramirez is likely closer to 160 than the 185 he is listed at, but he already shows more power than you might expect. However, against same-side pitching, the pretty swing tends to falls apart. The platoon issues shouldn't be a huge surprise given that he is a young prep pick seeing college lefties for the first time, but he was clearly overmatched. He struggled badly against fastballs up and in, and pulled off/stepped into the bucket on fringy soft stuff away. This is all pretty textbook, but it will have to improve for Ramirez's offensive profile to play up to my projection.

Hit

Current Grade: 20 (Well-below average/(.200 BA)

Future Grade: 40 (Below-average/.240 BA)

Raw Power

Current Grade: 35 (Below-average)

Future Grade: 50 (Average)

Game Power

Current Grade: 25 (Well-below-average/0-5 HR)

Future Grade: 40 (Below-average/~10 HR)


In the field

Ramirez is a very impressive center fielder for his age/experience level. He gets good jumps, tracks balls well in the air, and can put his head down and run to the spot when he really has to get on his horse. He didn't give me a good home-to-first time, but the speed underway is very impressive, although I suspect he will fill out a bit as he ages and may lose a grade there. That should still leave him with enough speed to play center. I didn't get to see the arm tested, but a scout told me that there were mechanical issues with his throws. These are fixable, but he didn't see an average arm long-term.

Glove (CF)

Current Grade: 40 (Below-average)

Future Grade: 55 (Solid-average)

Arm

Current Grade: 30 (Well-below-average)

Future Grade: 40 (Below-average)

Run

Current Grade: 70 (Plus-plus)

Future Grade: 60 (Above-average/Plus)

Overall Future Projection

50: Average major league regular

Ramirez's profile is very high risk, and the bat is still a bit of a project, but you don't have to squint hard to see a major league regular. The tools are obvious. It's a center fielder profile with some power potential. There is also a fair bit of swing-and-miss, especially against same-handed pitching. It's going to be a long process for him, and there will likely be seasons where this projection looks silly, but the payoff at the end might very well be worth it. Failing that, Ramirez's skill set would also fit well in a bench/platoon outfielder role. There is already a well-developed outline of a major league contributor here, and that is unusual to see in the Appalachian League

What to look for during the 2016 season

Unlike Milton Ramos and Luis Carpio, the other two K-Mets position prospects of note, I expect Ramirez to be more of a one-level-at-a-time guy. Another season in extended spring training to work on the swing and throwing would pay more long-term dividends than throwing him into the South Atlantic League in April. MCU Park is tough on left-handed hitters, but Ramirez should be one of the more exciting players on the 2016 Brooklyn Cyclones. If he can improve his contact rate and start to let the athletic tools show up more in the box score, he could be a breakout prospect for the Mets' system next year.