The unlikely story of how Jose Ramirez became one of the Tribe’s biggest offensive surprises
Jose Ramirez has been nothing short of incredible for us this season, but back in the Dominican Republic in 2009, Jose Ramirez was not the most sought after ballplayer, as Terry Pluto chronicles.
As Pluto writes, John Mirabelli, the Indians Senior Director of Scouting Operations said: “Jose was not close to being a top prospect. I don’t think he had any other offers except the one from us. I think Jose has surprised everybody.”
At age 17, Jose was older than most kids who were signed in the Dominican, as most of them had offers by 16. His stature was stocky, his power unclear but Tribe scout Ramon Pena say a raw athleticism in Ramirez that stood out to him.
Pluto writes: “There are events called the “Prospect League Games” in that country. It’s a place to scout the elite players.
‘Jose was not one of those guys,’ said Mirabelli. ‘He was a fill-in when someone else couldn’t play and they needed another guy. I was watching this game with Ramon Pena, and Jose was playing second base.’
Mirabelli said that was a concern.
‘The best Dominican players are at shortstop,’ he said. ‘The Dominican is known for their great shortstops. Jose was a small, stocky kid at second base. He didn’t look like a ballplayer. He wasn’t fluid. He didn’t have a great arm. He didn’t look that fast.’
He was just another guy playing on a lesser field.
‘But he got three hits that day,’ said Mirabelli.”
After watching him a bit more in 2009, the two decided to offer Ramirez a $50,000 signing bonus, well below the average of $200,000 at the time, but, nonetheless, a substantial amount of money for a Dominican kid paying baseball on overgrown ball fields.
Ramirez hit his way through the farm system, before making his MLB debut in 2013, still far from the breakout season he was soon to have in 2016.
As Pluto chronicles, the praise for Jose Ramirez as an all-around baseball player only grew with his time in the Indians system: “He also knew how to play,” said Mirabelli. “He can steal a base. He can bunt. He did a very good job with the glove at second base. He may not have been a big-time athlete, but he’s a baseball player.”
Now, at age 23, Jose Ramirez is batting .305 with 10 HR and 57 RBI, an unbelievable addition to the first-place Tribe.
You can catch Pluto’s whole article here.