He might be the right spark at just the right time.
Jose Ramirez was quite the spark this past weekend, logging seven hits in the three-game series versus Houston. Seven hits is a good weekend, but a game-winning base hit in the ninth on Saturday and a key, two-out base hit to drive in a run on Sunday makes a great weekend.
On the surface, Ramirez’s .235 batting average seems quite pedestrian, but since his recall in late July, he’s hit .286, with three stolen bases and seven runs scored. After playing a small role last September and struggling in May, Ramirez has found his place in his third opportunity with the Tribe. Since Asdrubal Cabrera was traded at the trade deadline, Ramirez has shared time with Mike Aviles at shortstop. Last September, he played sparingly at third base and in May this season he played second base. His versatility is his greatest asset in a prolonged big league career.
But as Ramirez has flourished, and Nick Swisher and Ryan Raburn have been placed on the disabled list, Aviles has been needed elsewhere around the diamond, leaving Ramirez to man shortstop on his own. No plans have changed for the Tribe, Ramirez is still holding down shortstop until the organization’s top prospect, Francisco Lindor, is ready for his big league debut. That debut could come as early as September 2, when the Columbus Clippers are eliminated from the playoffs or as late as Opening Day in 2015. Regardless, the future at shortstop remains Lindor.
However, presently, Ramirez has done a great job of filling the void and that role is what could make him a very successful big leaguer and piece to a championship caliber team. Ramirez brings versatility that allows him to play around the infield, giving regulars a day off while keeping himself in the lineup three to four days a week. His defenses makes him a quality upgrade in late innings and his speed on the base paths makes for an extra element to make the defense work. Ramirez probably isn’t a player you want starting at any position 130 times in a season, but in a role like Aviles he can spark an offense in the short term.
He’s accustomed to his role as a team’s spark plug. At just 19-years old, he was added to Lake County’s roster at the midway point of the season and became the piece—along with Lindor—to solidify the offense at the top of the order. He helped lead the Captains to the Midwest League semifinals in 2012. Last season, he skipped over High-A Carolina and hit .272 and stole 38 bases at Double-A Akron before being added to Cleveland’s September roster.
Despite a season of back and forth between Triple-A and Cleveland, Ramirez hit .302 at Columbus and now seems to be a piece of the Indians’ puzzle for the foreseeable future. Even if Lindor does debut and become the Tribe’s shortstop in 2015, it seems Ramirez can provide a spark to the big league club through his speed and versatility.
But for now, Ramirez’s running, bunting and defense is the spark making the Indians go.
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