Ramirez, Elias and Romero Worth Watching
These guys could be players we wind up watching for a long time.
Roenis Elias, Erasmo Ramirez and Stefen Romero are the latest Mariners to earn the opportunity to shine. Elias and Ramirez both pitched their way into the starting rotation during spring training, and Romero slugged his way into a reserve/platoon role in right field.
Roenis Elias is a very interesting story. A Cuban defector, who has never pitched above the AA level prior to this season, seems like a risk on the surface. I personally don’t think it is. This guy is tough beyond imagination.
This is a guy who spent 30 hours in a boat, and we’re not talking about a Carnival Cruise ship, either. Thirty hours in a boat not much larger than your average row boat just to get this chance. I don’t think anyone can question his mental toughness and competitiveness.
In his major league debut start, he had a no-hitter going. He lost it on a botched strike-three call by a rookie umpire. The pitch was a breaking ball that was pretty close to dead center in the strike zone and called a ball. Of course, the very next pitch was lined into the gap.
Mike Zunino wisely went out to the mound, as did manager Lloyd McClendon, to settle down the pitcher. Before the guys reached him on the mound, though, Elias gave that umpire, Sean Barber, a glare that could have melted a mountain of lead. At that moment, I knew we were watching someone who’s going to be special.
Some would point to his inexperience in pitching on a big stage, given that he’s never been above AA until now. Don’t forget this guy is 25 years old and pitched in Cuba. There is worthy competition there, and he’s more than ready.
Erasmo Ramirez is the other pitcher who found his way into the rotation this spring. He earned his chance by pitching lights-out baseball throughout spring training.
In nearly 24 innings, Ramirez held a 1.14 ERA during the spring. Opponents managed just a meager .143 batting average against him while striking out 20 times. Walks were nearly nonexistent, as he walked just two during the spring.
Spring Training is spring training, but Ramirez has carried his game into the regular season without any let down. In his first regular season start, he threw seven innings, allowed just two runs, and had no walks while striking out six Angels. Any MLB team would take that start any day of the week.
Seattle spent a good portion of time looking for a right-handed power bat this offseason. Much of its alleged attention was centered on PED convict and right fielder Nelson Cruz. Fortunately for the Mariners, and for young outfielder Stefen Romero, the M’s did not sign Cruz.
Romero had a monster spring, but you have to look beyond the batting average to see it. He hit .304, which is very, very good. Don’t get me wrong, but it’s the power number that make my eyeballs pop out of my head. Romero had 17 hits during spring training. Of those 17, he had three doubles, two triples and four homeruns.
That means more than half of his hits were extra-base hits. He wound up with a slugging percentage of .643 and an OPS just over 1.000. Seattle hasn’t had a right-hander put up numbers like that since
Once again: Yes, it’s spring training, but the early numbers show pretty similar for Romero during the regular season. He’s had just seven at-bats, but does have two hits, including a double.
How Much Will These Guys Play?
That’s tough to know for sure. Romero seems to be in a platoon/backup role in right field with Michael Saunders. If Corey Hart can stay healthy, he’ll be in right. If not, look for Saunders or Romero depending on the lefty/righty situation of the opposing starter.
Ramirez and Elias are going to pitch in the rotation at least until Taijuan Walker and Hisashi Iwakuma are back from the DL. Who comes out of the rotation at that point is going to be interesting to watch.
If these two continue to dominate, Lloyd McClendon will have a tough decision on his hands.