Is anyone surprised? The Cubs wanted Neil Ramirez as part of the original deal but backed off when the medical records showed some red flags. They re-structured the deal with him as the PTBNL so they could have more time to evaluate the potential impact those flags hand on his long term health.
Seems that they were satisfied he'd be okay.
There are mixed reviews on Ramirez. He looks the part at 6'4", 210 lbs and can reportedly reach 97 mph out of the bullpen while sitting at 90-94 as a starter (per Baseball America). He has developed a slider as an alternative to his inconsistent curve, which was plus at times but hard to command and a pitch he tended to leave up when he lost his feel. He has the size to be a power sinker/slider type with good downward plane as a starter.
As a starter at AA this season, Ramirez is 9-3 with a 3.84 ERA (3.11 FIP) with a strikeout to walk ratio of 11.10/3.67 per 9 innings pitched.
The problem is more with his mechanics. He's cleaned them up in recent years and it led to a bounce back season this year but flaws remain. He has trouble repeating his delivery, particularly the release point, and it leads to command issues such as we talked about with the curve.
Those flaws may someday relegate him to the bullpen where he can be a power late inning reliever that can let loose with his good stuff and not worry about making precise pitches. It's the kind of gamble the Cubs have taken of late -- which is to take a chance on power arms, knowing they could end up as valuable bullpen pieces should they fail as starters.
It's possible the Cubs think the delivery can be tinkered with a bit, but as we learned from Derek Johnson, sometimes you don't want to tinker with it too much. Ramirez's delivery also creates some deception which adds to his effectiveness, so you want to be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater here.
It's clear the Cubs are erring on the side of upside over probability in the Garza deal. Mike Olt and C.J. Edwards are mid to high reward types but carry risk as top end prospects. Ramirez fits that mold as well and so goes Justin Grimm to a lesser extent. If two of these guys pan out, we can consider this a very good deal for the Cubs.
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