Rays Winter Ball Recap: Spotlight on Matt Ramsey


Let’s be honest. Nothing so exciting happened in terms of current and former Rays on Monday night. The Venezuelan Winter League and Mexican Pacific League were both off, and one of the Dominican Winter League’s two games was rained out, leaving just the remaining game and the Arizona Fall League to cover. And among those two games, nothing too extraordinary happened–unless you want to count Matt Ramsey‘s 6-pitch 9th with a strikeout. But nights like this will be few and far between the next few months and let’s take advantage of this. Something just as cool as how the Rays-related players did on Monday was that the Salt River Rafters were playing in Peoria, giving us the opportunity to see exactly what Ramsey’s stuff looked like in his outing.

Arizona Fall League: Peoria Javelinas 5, Salt River Rafters 3

Certainly could have been a better game for Salt River, but Rays prospects were not that bad overall. Ryan Brett followed up his 2-hit game on Saturday with another hit on Monday, going 1 for 4 with a stolen base and a run scored overall. He is still hitting just .148 on the season, but his quality of contact has suggested bad luck overall, and he is finally starting to get his results in line with where they should be. Brett also added something on defense to help out the only other Rays prospect in the game, Matt Ramsey. After Cheslor Cuthbert reached on an error, Ramsey struck out Jorge Bonifacio before allowing a line drive to Orlando Calixte that was gloved by Brett to start a 4-3 double play.

Ramsey’s stuff in his outing showed reason for optimism but also areas to question him moving forward. Five of his six pitches were fastballs ranging from 92 to 93 MPH with an average of 92.6 MPH. The good news was that Ramsey’s velocity was solid and he was able to get solid late movement on the pitch. A couple of the fastballs featuring two-seam run towards a right-handed hitter and his final pitch that induced the Calixte double play featured sink and run towards the inside corner just below the zone. But the rest of Ramsey’s fastballs remained up and a couple of them were straight as well, and while he was able to use their late movement to beat hitters this time, you can’t be confident of the same thing against more advanced hitters. Ramsey also threw one curveball, and it was a good one, missing outside but showing sharp break down-and-away from a right-handed hitter. Can’t glean too much from just one pitch, but the movement on the pitch was good and it worked beautifully to set up his two-seamer thanks to the difference in velocity and movement the opposite way. Ramsey has the stuff to be a very good pitcher, but what we saw from him on Monday made it clear that fastball command is what will determine his future. Ramsey passed through two levels in 2013, and whether he finishes 2014 at Triple-A or gets stuck at High-A is going to be determined by how well he can place his fastball moving forward. Ramsey’s last pitch of his outing was exactly what he will be looking for, a fastball located almost perfectly on the inside corner and down, and hopefully that can be something he can build on in his next outing.

Dominican Winter League: Leones del Escogido 12, Estrellas de Oriente 4

A pair of 2013 Durham Bulls did not exactly have the game they were looking for Oriente in this one. Vince Belnome went 0 for 3 with a walk and now he his hitting just .091 on the season (1 for 11). The good news: he actually has 6 walks and a .389 OBP. Belnome’s plate discipline makes him productive even when the hits aren’t coming at the plate, and when he gets on track, he’ll be even more dangerous. Adam Liberatore, meanwhile, walked the only batter he faced as part of a run with 2 outs in the 5th where three straight Estrellas pitchers who faced one batter and failed to retire him before departing. Wander Pererez allowed a 3-run double to bring everyone home and put the game out of reach. Oriente began the inning up 3-1, but they trailed 6-3 by the end of it and things only got worse from there. Liberatore has now faced a grand total of two batters in his two appearances. Hopefully he gets a little bit of a longer leash moving forward.