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Indians 2014 in Review: James Ramsey

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Even after drafting Tyler Naquin...and Clint Frazier...and Bradley Zimmer, the Indians still went out and acquired James Ramsey, and the former Cardinal farmhand may be the first of this crop of OF to make his way to Cleveland.

Joel Auerbach

Every weekday for the next few weeks you'll find a look back at the 2014 season for one of the Indians or Tribe prospects, as we sort out what happened and what it means for the franchise going forward.

James Ramsey

  • Position: OF
  • 2014 Player Age: 24
  • Acquired: Via trade from St. Louis Cardinals, for Justin Masterson, 7/30/14

When the season started, I don't imagine many people thought the Indians would be trading away Justin Masterson if they were in contention, but Masterson's struggles changed the equation and the Indians were able to spin him off to St. Louis for James Ramsey, a 24-year-old OF who had done everything asked of him in the Cardinal organization, but was blocked by a deep set of OF above him.

Through July 29, Ramsey had played his entire season with the Springfield Cardinals, the AA affiliate for the big league Cards, and did exactly what you would expect a former first-round pick to do. He posted a .300/.389/.527 line with 13 HR and even added four SB over his 67 games. The line was a bit inflated by a .364 BABIP, but that can sometimes happen when a batter is facing over-matched pitching and consistently making good, hard contact.

This was actually Ramsey's second look at AA pitching. In 2013, he started the year in High-A, played most of the year in AA and even got a single game (0-3 with 1 K) in AAA. His 2013 line in Springfield was .251/.356/.424 with 15 HR and 8 SB in 93 games. His .316 BABIP explains a good chunk of the gap between the two years, but both lines were solid.

So with 160 AA games under his belt at the time of the trade, the Indians, a bit starved for potential impact OF at the high levels, particularly after Tyler Naquin's injury, wasted no time moving Ramsey up a notch. He reported directly to Columbus and on August 1 got off to an inauspicious start as a Clipper, going 0-4 with a walk and two strike outs.

By the end of the game on August 4th, Ramsey had played five AAA games (four with Columbus) and was 1-19 with 10 Ks and two BBs. Not pretty. The rest of the way, though, he hit .303/.366/.523 with 4 HR in 108 PA. That's 20+ HR power over a full season.

Ramsey's full line for Columbus, including the post-season, was .272/.345/.464 with those 4 HR, plus 10 doubles and 1 SB. Again the line was BABIP inflated, but after a rough start, the youngster adapted well to Columbus and to AAA.

Ramsey is not without his warts. The great overall line hid a high K-rate (though he at least paired it with a solid BB-rate) and issues hitting lefties (he'll fit right in!). He also had a rough Home/Road split while with Columbus, which is worth keeping in mind, as well.

On his grade, I wavered a bit on offering an A- vs. a B+, but those splits and the high BABIPs are cause for concern.

2014 Grade: B+

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Outlook for 2015

Ramsey should enter camp with a shot to make the Opening Day roster, but he might be a bit of a long-shot, depending what happens over the off-season. He is not a player you would bring up to ride the pine. He does hit RHP extremely well and could be a nice asset as the strong side of a platoon, but David Murphy should be filling that role in RF. If you assume Murphy keeps that job, Nick Swisher is the DH, the Michaels Bourn and Brantley hold down their jobs, there is not much room for Ramsey to start the season. I fully expect Ramsey to be next-in-line, though. Because of his versatility in the OF, you could see Ramsey come up to replace an ineffective or injured player in any of the three slots.

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