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Ramsey Remains a Name to Know in Columbus Outfield

Ramsey Remains a Name to Know in Columbus Outfield

| On 19, Dec 2015

The Cleveland Indians have been busy this offseason, with lots of attention being given to the bullpen and more specifically the list of contenders for roles in the club’s outfield for 2016.

When the Indians acquired James Ramsey from the St. Louis Cardinals at the deadline in 2014 in their trade of starting pitcher Justin Masterson, he was supposed to be on that radar by now.

Instead of being one of the top candidates for the job, Ramsey finds himself buried behind multiple free agent fall signings with a slight bit of Major League experience. That road to the show was filled with another obstacle this week when the team signed versatile veteran outfielder Rajai Davis to help out the Major League club.

The birthday boy Ramsey, who turns 26 on Saturday, missed out on an opportunity to stake a spot on the club for this season. The Indians outfield evolved drastically over the course of the 2015 season, with only Michael Brantley remaining from a group that included David Murphy (traded), Brandon Moss (traded), Nick Swisher (traded), Michael Bourn (traded), Ryan Raburn (option declined), and Jerry Sands (designated for assignment on Thursday).

Several other potential outside contenders and one-time 40-man roster members, Tyler Holt and Carlos Moncrief, are also gone from the organization.

Only Ramsey stands with Brantley from that group, but he has been joined by the likes of Davis, Abraham Almonte, Joey Butler, Collin Cowgill, Robbie Grossman, and Shane Robinson. Lonnie Chisenhall developed into a surprise of a find of a right fielder for two months late last season. Michael Choice and Michael Martinez, two of Ramsey’s teammates with the Clippers last season, both have returned on minor league contracts with invites to spring training. Late season teammate with Columbus, Tyler Naquin, has also thrown his name into the mix.

Ramsey was added to the Indians’ 40-man roster following the 2014 season after spending a month with the club at their Triple-A affiliate in his first significant action at the level. He hit .284 with three homers, nine doubles, and 16 RBI in 28 games after batting .300 with 13 homers and 36 RBI for the Cardinals’ Double-A Springfield squad.

Instead of taking off in 2015, the 2012 first round pick was significantly cooled off after a pair of two-hit games to start what would be a roller coaster ride of a season at the plate for the lefty.

He hit .211 for the month of April with three homers and ten RBI, then perked up in May with a .294 mark, five homers, eight doubles, 13 RBI, and added 18 walks for a .397 OBP. But as soon as he got hot, he cooled off, hitting .209 in June with a homer and just three RBI in 27 games.

July proved to be a bit of an average month at the plate, hitting .262, but the power and run support from him were minimal as he contributed just three doubles, two more homers, and eight RBI in 23 games. The average plummeted to a season-worst .164 in 21 games in August with just five extra base hits and four RBI. He wrapped the season with ten hits in six September games, nearly matching the dozen hits he had in the whole previous month.

He finished the year with a .242 average, a dozen homers, and 42 RBI.

He struggled in the clutch (.162, two doubles, two homers, 15 RBI in 82 plate appearances). He hit .275 on the road, but just .208 at his home in Huntington Park. His splits were nearly equal (.243 versus righties; .245 versus lefties), but the power was much more prevalent against the right-handers. For the year, he averaged more than a strikeout per game.

He spent time all over the outfield for the Clippers in 2015, playing 52 games in left, 41 in center, and 23 in right. He had worked almost exclusively in center for the team in 2014.

Another year older, Ramsey will have his work cut out for him heading into the season, with a slew of prospects likely nipping at his heels in Double-A. He will have to have a much better and more consistent start to his 2016 campaign to keep his name one to know for the Indians in the future.

Photo: Barbara J. Perenic/The Columbus Dispatch