Cubs Claim Catcher Off Waivers
The Cubs have claimed 26-year old C-1B Max Ramirez off waivers from the Boston Red Sox.
The Red Sox claimed Ramirez off waivers from the Texas Rangers last Wednesday, and immediately placed him back on waivers again the next day, obviously hoping they were the only club with interest in Ramirez and that they could sneak him through. But what the BoSox did not foresee was that during the time that Ramirez was on waivers the Cubs would make an eight-player deal where they would trade four players who were on their 40-man roster for two players on the other club's 40 (thus opening up two slots on the Cubs 40-man roster), and that one of the players the Cubs would trade would be a catcher (Robinson Chirinos).
Ramirez was signed out of Venezuela by the Braves in 2002, and was traded in stretch drive deals twice, from ATL to CLE in July 2006 (for RHRP Bob Wickman), and from CLE to TEX in July 2007 (for OF Kenny Lofton).
Ramirez was a Rangers Top 10 Prospect as recently as 2009. He is an offensive-first right-handed hitting catcher with plus-power who has also played some 1B in recent years, with a 298/396/476 minor league line in 563 career minor league games. If his minor league numbers are averaged out over 140 games per season, he would average 18 HR, 89 RBI, and 33 doubles per season. He has hit 217/343/357 with four HR and four doubles in 45 MLB games (2008 and 2010 with Texas).
He doesn't have much of an arm, throwing out just 18% of opposing base-stealers in his minor league career, and his all-around defensive skills are rated below-average. He is also a very slow runner.
Ramirez will be competing in Spring Training with Koyie Hill and Welington Castillo for the Cubs back-up catcher gig, but (like K. Hill) Ramirez is out of minor league options, so if he does not make the Cubs 25-man roster coming out of Spring Training he would have to pass through Ourtright Waivers without being claimed before he could be sent to the minors.
With Paredes moving to 3B, how do you see playing time shaking out between him and Galindo? Do you think Galindo gets starts at 1B? Galindo is more of a prospect than Paniagua, right?
Phil, your knowledge of the Cubs Minor League system is unbelievable.
This kid would be a key piece in a trade for a pitcher, imo.
This might be old news but Hammel was on ESPN 1000 and said that he changed his diet and workout routine over the off season and tweaked his delivery so it'd be more repeatable so he'd have a better second half. So...some cause for optimism anyway.
CHILDERS: RHSP Dylan Cease and LHSP Bryan Hudson are probably the top two SP prospects in the organization right now.
LHSP Jose Paulino has electric stuff (91-94 MPH fastball with sinking action and a mid-80's slider), but he also has trouble commanding it.
RHP Jose Albertos (2015 IFA - Mexico - $1.5M bonus) just turned 17 in November, and his fastball already sits at 95-96. He also throws a curve and a change-up, and is fairly advanced for a kid his age.
AZBOBBOP: Most of 2016 draft picks will get assigned to either Eugene or AZL Cubs, but the Opening Day Eugune roster will probably be almost 100% from the Extended Spring Training squad roster (pending the arrival of draft picks).
I think I can probably tell you which pitchers and players at EXST are in contention for roster slots at Eugene and which are in contention for slots with the AZL Cubs - AS THINGS STAND RIGHT NOW - (listed alphabetically):
* bats or throws left
# bats both
Eloy Jimenez atop the leader board for minor-league home runs in the Cub system, with seven. Tied with Balaguert and Vogelbach, two 24-year-olds. Jimenez won't be 20 until late November. Leads the Midwest League in SLG and OPS. Maybe he'll get promoted to the Myrtle Beach squad that visits Woodbridge, VA, in June or Frederick, MD, in August.
Watched two Pelican games at Frederick the other week. Was most impressed by Stinnett and Happ. Happ may swing harder than Javier Baez, though more compactly. (Also got to see Brockmeyer hit a bomb.)
E-MAN: Jose Paniagua isn't a string-bean, but I wouldn't say he necessarily bulked-up during the 2015-16 off-season either, He led the DSL Cubs in HR and doubles in 2014, and he showed XBH power when he arrived in Mesa last year, leading the AZL Cubs in HR, doubles, and RBI in 2015. It's just that he has taken his HR power to a new level this year.
Paniagua displayed plus-HR power in Cactus League Minor League Spring Training games in March, and that got him a slot on the South Bend Opening Day roster. But he was sent to EXST after only six MWL games.
More on the Cub Way.
Martinez is one of my least favorite pitchers in baseball. I'd love to see a game like yesterday's against him.
Send Soler down!
Awesome thanks AZ
Great report, Phil! This organization has so many hitters to be excited about.
Ben Zobrist is very enjoyable to watch!!!!!!
given that he seems to only be throwing low 90s these days rather than the 93-96mph he used to throw, along with his wildness issues this year, he may end up passing through.
i dunno if something is wrong with him physically or his past shoulder issues has rendered him what he currently is, but he's been throwing a lot of sliders he can't control well and his fastball isn't as sharp. even when his slider wasn't working in a game he was still throwing a lot of them.
Any scuttlebutt on where Neil Ramirez gets traded?
He seems better than some of the relievers on competitive teams. He ought to bring more than the waiver fee.
My guess? Toronto.