The Winter Meetings came and went with very little action from Seattle’s side, but they did leave Orlando with a new Major Leaguer from a division rival.
The Mariners found Brandon Brennan in last year’s MLB Rule 5 Draft and developed the right-handed reliever into a solid piece within their bullpen last year. They’ll hope to do the same with this year’s selection, Yohan Ramirez, a 24-year-old flamethrower from the Houston Astros organization.
Ramirez wasn’t the name many expected to be called once the Mariners’ pick came up, but it’s quite obvious as to why the organization likes him. The newest Mariner sports an upper 90s fastball that can hit 99 on the radar gun with some run to it. Unfortunately, he profiles similarly to another live arm the Mariners acquired last year—Gerson Bautista.
Shoddy command and an inconsistent repertoire will do that for you. In Double-A last year, Ramirez missed a ton of bats to the tune of a 12.85 K/9, but also posted a horrific 7.51 BB/9. Getting Ramirez in and around the zone more consistently will be huge for the Mariners over the next few months.
Perhaps accessing his changeup more regularly and effectively would help some. Ramirez has started games for the Astros’ minor league affiliates and technically has a four-pitch arsenal, but there isn’t much to write home about in terms of his breaking stuff. Reports have depicted intriguing aspects of a slider that could open up to some promising developments, but for now, it’s a fastball-changeup combo with a ton of work to do on the command front.
With the work they’ve done with the likes of Brennan, Edwin Díaz, Connor Sadzeck, Austin Adams, and others in the past, this Mariners’ regime has earned enough respect to say that, if any team can turn things around for Ramirez, it would be them. Of course, the Astros’ pitching development ain’t too shabby either, but perhaps the change in environment and philosophies will do Ramirez some good.
Aside from Ramirez, the Mariners also selected three other players in the Triple-A phase of the draft. They took a pair of St. Louis Cardinals prospects in catcher Brian O’Keefe and first baseman Dariel Gomez, as well as Miami Marlins outfielder Jhonny Santos.
More importantly, they didn’t lose anyone in the draft. Ljay Newsome, Dom Thompson-Williams, Jack Anderson, etc. will all stay put and the risk pays off for the Mariners. It was a good day for the club all around.