2016 Phillies Report Card: Edubray Ramos
Edubray Ramos‘ journey to the Majors was not as rapid as the last three seasons would lead one to believe. While he did begin the 2014 season in the Venezuelan Summer League (a lower level than state-side rookie ball), and had spent over three months in the Majors by the end of the 2016 season, Ramos’ professional career actually began several years earlier.
At age 17, Ramos was signed and then released by the St Louis Cardinals as they shuttered the doors of their own Venezuelan Summer League team. In a story that has been told before, Ramos spent the next two years literally painting cars and cleaning floors to cover his mother’s medical bills before receiving an opportunity to tryout for the Phillies. He was signed without a bonus before the 2013 season, and came stateside in 2014.
He quickly ascended the Minor League ranks as a reliever, and entering the 2016 season, was one of the most interesting relief prospects in the Phillies’ system. Beginning the season back in Reading, Ramos quickly earned a promotion after pitching 15 innings with a 25 percent K-BB rate. He maintained his dominance in Lehigh Valley, producing a 25.6 percent K-BB rate while allowing only one run over 23.2 innings.
By late June, Ramos had already pushed his way to the Major Leagues. Manager Pete Mackanin described him as a prospect that, despite his size, still displayed the skills necessary to be a future closer. Upon reaching the big leagues, he displayed that potential. His fastball didn’t feature elite movement, but sat comfortably at 95.8 mph (maxing out at 98.5 mph) and pounded the strike zone. His predominant secondary pitch was a slider that featured solid downward movement while averaging 82 mph. It generated 15.9 percent whiffs and also stayed around the strike zone.
From a results standpoint, Ramos was fairly effective. An 18.1 percent K-BB rate was pretty useful, and despite a low groundball rate, only allowed home runs at a league average rate. His 93 ERA- and 85 FIP- made him one of the most reliable arms in the Phillies bullpen in 2016. Some may see that as damning him with faint praise – the Phillies bullpen was among the worst in baseball, by many measures – but his caliber of performance would have been a welcome addition on basically any team.
Looking ahead, his spot in the bullpen is safe in 2017, and at only age 24, he will have plenty of time to build on what he’s shown so far. With a higher strikeout rate, you could see Ramos perform later inning work, but as-is, he could comfortably be the Phillies’ seventh inning man in 2017 (though roster construction may force a different role).
To be able to show up halfway through the season as a rookie and still put up 40 effective innings is a credit to both Ramos’ talent and the team’s trust in him. However, his 78.2 combined innings was a new career high, and he did end the year with elbow soreness. The injury was considered minor, but it is something to keep track of moving forward. Considering how late it occurred, it doesn’t effect the evaluation of his season at all. Ramos had a strong debut at age-23, but has yet to fully display the upside that his velocity and control indicate may exist. Despite this, he would probably have a spot on any roster in baseball.