|Kat's Contemplations: Horacio Ramirez||| Print ||
Written by Katherina DiChristina (Contact & Archive) on July 23, 2003
Horacio is from Carson, California and pronounces his name the Spanish way, Or-Ah-See-Oh. He is a Lakers fan, he followed the Dodgers growing up and he wears the number 30. He has had Tommy John surgery already and he claims that is one of the reasons he has gotten comfortable pitching outside now.
Ramirez was drafted by the Braves in the fifth round in 1997. He pitched in the minors for 6 years, in Orlando (Gulf Coast Braves), Macon, Eugene, Myrtle Beach, and Greenville. His last year in AA Greenville, he had 9 wins and a 3.03 era with 64 strikeouts in 92 innings. In 2000 with Myrtle Beach, before he had Tommy John surgery, he had 15 wins with a 3.22 era and held opponents to a .242 average. 2000 was the only year he had a full season worth of starts, and that season I think gave us a hint of what Horacio would do in the majors.
Maybe Horacio Ramirez doesn't have outstanding stuff, but he has been the most reliable starter in the Braves rotation, along with newcomer Russ Ortiz. What he does have though is amazing mound presence. Manager Bobby Cox and pitching coach Leo Mazzone have raved endlessly about how mature Ramirez is on the mound considering that he is a rookie. He is not afraid to challenge hitters and he rarely ever gives in. These are things you don't normally find in a rookie and they are the main reasons I have found myself partial to this extraordinary young man.
Ramirez started out the season in the number 2 slot. When Mike Hampton came back from injury, and Shane Reynolds was brought to the Braves, Horacio was shoved to the number five spot. He has since proven himself enough to allow Bobby Cox to move Horacio up to the number 4 spot and to grant him more stability. This should help his control, which is fabulous. Both Leo Mazzone and Bobby Cox have said he has outstanding control in his side sessions, he just needs to make the next move and bring it to the mound. Hopefully the consistency of the number four spot will let that happen.
Don't let Horacio's stats fool you as they do not tell the whole story. The 4.17 era is the beneficiary of getting loads of run support from the offensively minded Braves. As a rookie, he is still learning what to throw and when, and with the run support that he has been getting he has been able to experiment and learn the arts of pitching on his own. His 4 HBP hints that he likes to pitch inside, which is usually his game plan. He's not afraid to back a hitter off the plate and usually does it with great success. He has had 17 double plays, which is of course an important part of a pitchers game, to be able to get the ground ball when you need it.
In my opinion, this lefty is forcing the issue in the Rookie of the Year race and is definitely at the top of the list of candidates. He'll finish the year in double digit wins and if he passes 12 he'll surpass Damian Moss's rookie of the year bid of 2002.
The name Horacio Ramirez is one that is well worth remembering.
Photo courtesy of Tracy Frank