Yesterday’s post on Bryan Anderson triggered a small flood of requests for projections for other “neglected” catching prospects. I’m not going to respond to most of these; there are usually good reasons if a player is not in the system. But one guy I thought was worth spinning PECOTA’s wheels on was Max Ramirez, the catching prospect acquired by the Indians in the Bob Wickman deal.
Ramirez doesn’t have a player card up yet, but if he did you’d see some fairly impressive raw totals; he’s a lifetime .303/.401/.481 hitter in the minor leagues. The problem is with the way that Ramirez has been putting up those numbers. A large part of his value comes from his high walk rate, but he hasn’t been young for his levels and he strikes out a lot, which suggests that a lot of those walks result from exploiting weak A-Ball pitching, rather than a core competency for pitch recognition.
The other issue is that Ramirez may not really be a catcher. He spent as much time at DH last year as he did behind the plate, and his defense was not very good when he played, yielding -8 fielding runs in just 53 games played. Essentially, this is the George Kottaras skill set, and indeed Kottaras rates as Ramirez’ #2 comparable (#1 is Curtis Thigpen, but Thigpen’s defense is a lot better). Ramirez’ Upside score of 38.7 also puts him right in Kottaras’ neighborhood. PECOTA does think that Ramirez can cut down on his strikeout rate and produce some reasonable batting averages — his .265/.345/.400 age-26 batting line doesn’t look too bad — but that doesn’t solve the problem of his being a ‘tweener. Think Ryan Garko with less power; I’ll pass.