Ramirez has been quite the story this year. He started the year at High-A. After just one start, the Rangers promoted him to Triple-A where he has dominated hitters with his 92 to 95 MPH fastball, overhand power curveball that rates as a plus pitch, and an average changeup offering. Mechanically, he’s a “short-armer” who has worked to lengthen his arm action, improve his command and to repeat his delivery. He has taken a long time to develop, but John Sickels stated in his 2011 handbook, “He’s a pitcher on the verge of a breakout.” If Ramirez is able to sustain consistency in his delivery and form command of his pitches, he has a chance to remain a starter. Projects as a mid-rotation starter or power bullpen arm.
Career Stats (inc. 2011): 9.3 K/9 | 3.8 BB/9 |298 2/3 IP | 4.07 ERA | 1.34 WHIP | .9 Hr/9 | 8.2 H/9
2011 Stats (AAA): 10.0 K/9 | 3.9 BB/9 | 43 1/3 IP | 3.74 ERA | 3.04 FIP | 1.32 WHIP | .4 Hr/9 | 7.9 H/9 | .319 BABIP
I’ve always been a sucker for high-strikeout pitchers, especially for fantasy baseball. His track record suggest some modest optimism restraint. Looking at his minor statistics, he compares favorably to Carlos Marmol and his pitch selection compares to Joe Nathan. Ideally, Ramirez would stay in the rotation, but Neftali Feliz should be starting. On pure stuff, he could sufficiently replace Feliz. The restraint is based in his walks and future role. Statistically, he could have value similar to the likes of Craig Kimbrel, Feliz and Marmol if given a bullpen spot, and Marmol and Kimbrel have had good success while being wild, but that doesn’t always mean Ramirez is a guarantee. I like his darkhorse fantasy option in a late summer call-up.
Wheeler was the Rockies first round draft pick in 2009. He is working on changing his pure pull hitting approach to utilize the full field. He has struggled in his young career to recognize breaking pitches, especially from lefties. Furthermore, he has always struggled to hit lefties. Tends to be a streaky hitter. Defensively, he is very athletic, able to play center field with plus-speed and a solid-average arm, which would translate well in right field. He is a smart base runner and should continue to steal bases as he progresses in the minors. His bat needs to improve significantly if he wants to be more than a platoon player or a fourth outfielder with stellar defensive capabilities.
Career Stats (inc. 2011): .267/.352/.434 | 974 AB | 89 XBH | 31 Hr | .167 ISO | 41/18 SB/CS | 219:113 K:BB
2011 Stats (AA): .330/.412/.644 | 191 AB | 29 XBH | 14 Hr | .314 ISO | 9/6 SB/CS | 45:25 K:BB | .362 BABIP
Every time I turn around, the Rockies seem to have another outfield prospect worth mentioning. Wheeler has struggled in his first two professional seasons. Even during 2009 and 2010, Wheeler had solid walk rates (~9.7%) and moderate strikeouts rates (~22%). It was that he wasn’t really driving the ball, or hitting lefties. Currently, he’s sporting a .254/.346/.448 slash line in 67 at-bats against southpaws. It appears that the new hitting approach – utilizing the whole field – is paying off early dividends this year. He’s still struggling against lefties, but not nearly as much. With a similar walk rate (10.8%) and strikeout rate (22.4%), he has increased his ISO over 2.5 times. Tulsa (the Rockies Double-A Affiliate) does hold a slight reputation for a hitters park, but not California League hitters park. Wheeler’s success is buttressed by a moderately high luck factor (.362 BABIP) – never had a BABIP higher than .310 in career. The steals are not coming as effortlessly. Nevertheless, Wheeler has 20/30 potential if he can keep developing his hitting approach, and learn to hit lefties. Otherwise, think 15/20 over a full year, or 375 at-bats as a ceiling for a fourth outfielder. Then again, this is Colorado, we could err on the side of optimism.