Manager using a unique method to train star Yankees prospect Ramirez

Yankees catching prospect Agustin Ramirez gives autographs to fans at Tampa, FL.

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Ahead of a pivotal game, Somerset Patriots’ skipper Raul Dominguez had an unconventional meeting planned with his star slugger, Agustin Ramirez. While commending Ramirez’s impressive offensive prowess, leading the Double-A ranks in home runs, and his strides behind the plate as a catcher, Dominguez sought to address a different area for growth: language acquisition.

Drawing from his own experiences as a Panamanian native who had navigated language barriers early in his coaching career, Dominguez shared a personal anecdote. He recounted how a fellow coach had provided him with a notebook containing essential baseball phrases in both Spanish and English, aiding his communication efforts.

Recognizing Ramirez’s similar situation as a Dominican player, Dominguez presented him with a thoughtful gift – a brand new notebook, accompanied by a pen and a pencil. The idea was for Ramirez to utilize the pencil for English words and the pen for Spanish translations, fostering a bilingual approach to learning.

To kickstart Ramirez’s linguistic journey, the notebook commenced with a common catcher’s phrase during mound visits: “Get ahead in the count,” written in both English and Spanish. Dominguez encouraged Ramirez to continuously add new phrases related to catcher-pitcher communication, encompassing pitching strategies and game situations.

He assured Ramirez that consistent effort would lead to improved fluency, rendering the notebook obsolete over time as the language became ingrained in his repertoire.

Ramirez enthusiastically embraced the gift, acknowledging the pivotal role of communication for a catcher. While he possessed the ability to comprehend spoken English, he recognized the value of further language development to strengthen his relationships with pitchers and enhance on-field communication.

Ramirez makes strides on and off the field

Yankees catching prospect Agustin Ramirez is at Double-A Somerset.
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Agustin Ramirez, a rising star for the Somerset Patriots, is undergoing a multifaceted growth spurt, both on and off the diamond. 

While his on-field exploits are undeniable, leading the Double-A ranks in home runs and showcasing offensive prowess, Ramirez is also prioritizing language learning to bolster communication, particularly with his battery mates. This additional effort underscores his unwavering dedication to his craft.

On the home front, his one-year-old daughter, Aileen, is playing an unforeseen role in Ramirez’s linguistic development. With a touch of humor, the Yankees prospect acknowledges his exposure to educational cartoons, particularly those featuring the iconic Mickey Mouse.

This revelation elicits amusement from his manager, Raul Dominguez, who shares his own experience of conquering English through his favorite sitcom, “Friends.” Even to this day, Dominguez finds joy in watching the show, a testament to its efficacy in his language acquisition journey.

Ramirez’s path to success was not without its fair share of obstacles. Signed by the Yankees in 2018, he encountered a sluggish start, spending his initial three seasons in rookie ball. The 2020 season’s cancellation due to the COVID-19 pandemic further impeded his progress. However, last year marked a turning point with his promotion to a full-season club. This season has witnessed him blossom offensively, batting .271 with 18 home runs across three levels. His impressive ability to mash for power while maintaining a solid average has garnered him recognition, landing him a spot on MLB Pipeline’s top 30 Yankees prospects list at No. 21.

Despite his offensive prowess, Ramirez’s future as a catcher initially raised concerns. Preseason scouting reports highlighted his raw potential at the plate overshadowing his defensive limitations. Scouts noted areas for improvement in receiving, framing, and blocking skills due to a lack of agility and “soft hands.” While his arm strength was considered solid, a slow release contributed to a high stolen base rate against him last year (79%). These factors led some to believe a position switch to first base might be necessary.

These evaluations were based on Ramirez’s 2021 performance, where he recorded 16 passed balls and eight errors. Even Ramirez’s manager, Dominguez, harbored doubts at the time. However, a remarkable transformation has taken place.

“After the season, Ramirez went to Tampa for Instructional League,” Dominguez recollected. “When he returned for spring training this year, it was something I noticed right away. He’s improved behind the plate.”

Ramirez’s dedication to improvement extends beyond the batter’s box. His commitment to language learning and his newfound defensive strides showcase a well-rounded player on the ascendancy.

Yankees’ spring training fuelled Ramirez’s defensive growth

Yankees catching prospect Agustin Ramirez is at Double-A Somerset.
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Agustin Ramirez’s growth extends far beyond the impressive offensive statistics that have him leading the Eastern League in home runs and RBIs. His time participating in big-league spring training proved to be an invaluable experience, offering him the chance to learn from the best.

One such mentor was Yankees catcher Jose Trevino, a 2022 Gold Glove and Platinum Glove winner. Ramirez expressed profound gratitude for the opportunity to glean knowledge from Trevino, particularly regarding managing the running game and supporting pitchers. Trevino’s willingness to share his expertise has demonstrably impacted Ramirez’s game.

The results on the field speak volumes. In his five games as a catcher this season, Ramirez has demonstratedmarked improvement. He has yet to record a passed ball, committed only two errors, and thrown out two of ten attempted base stealers.

Ramirez’s dedication to improvement extends beyond the mentorship he received. Patriots defensive coach Aaron Bossi revealed targeted feedback provided to Ramirez, with a specific focus on enhancing his blocking skills. Ramirez embraced this feedback, and Bossi has witnessed significant progress in this area. While there’s ongoing refinement with throwing times, the initial improvement is undeniable.

It’s worth noting that Ramirez has only caught in five of the Patriots’ first 12 games, sharing duties with Ben Rice, the Yankees’ No. 12 prospect. Despite this split, Bossi expressed his satisfaction with Ramirez’s development and his commitment to improvement. He highlighted the often-underrated value of Ramirez’s defensive contributions.

While Ramirez’s offensive outburst, which includes leading the Eastern League in homers and RBIs, garners significant attention, his defensive strides shouldn’t be overlooked. His .262 batting average and impressive 1.154 OPS are commendable, further solidifying his well-rounded skillset.

His power surge has been particularly electrifying. He launched a home run in Somerset’s first three games and has six homers in his first seven contests overall. His latest display of power came on Wednesday night, a towering opposite-field shot that soared out of right field at TD Bank Ballpark. Manager Raul Dominguez couldn’t help but sing Ramirez’s praises, emphasizing his remarkable power and consistent ability to connect with the sweet spot of the bat, translating to impressive results.

Ramirez aims high

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Agustin Ramirez’s recent offensive eruption, which sees him atop the Eastern League leaderboards in home runs and RBIs, can be attributed to a pivotal adjustment in his swing mechanics. He has incorporated more hip rotation, a change that has demonstrably enhanced his ability to elevate the ball. “This adjustment has been immensely beneficial,” Ramirez elucidated, underscoring his goal of launching the ball into the air for maximum power.

Ramirez’s power-hitting prowess is no recent phenomenon. He recounts showcasing this talent even in his formative days playing baseball in the Dominican Republic at the tender age of eight. “People noticed my ability to hit the ball with authority right from the outset,” Ramirez reminisced.

As a teenager, Ramirez, who was already attracting the attention of Major League Baseball scouts, idolized Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez, a player renowned for his home run prowess. “Gary Sanchez was someone I looked up to,” Ramirez admitted.

This admiration has fueled Ramirez’s own aspirations. He dreams of following in Sanchez’s footsteps by one day becoming the Yankees’ starting catcher. This ambition is particularly palpable during his off-season visits to the Bronx, where he spends time with his girlfriend, daughter, and their family. Gazing upon Yankee Stadium during these visits, Ramirez can’t help but envision himself playing there one day. “Making it there is my ultimate goal,” Ramirez declared with unwavering determination.

Beyond his on-field dreams, Ramirez is committed to continuous improvement in every aspect of his game. This dedication extends to refining his hitting and catching skills, as well as achieving fluency in English.

Communication is essential, especially for a catcher, according to Raul Dominguez, who believes the catcher is essentially the leader on the field, calling the plays and guiding the pitchers, and his disciple is fully committed to mastering this aspect.

What do you think? Leave your comment below.

2 thoughts on “Manager using a unique method to train star Yankees prospect Ramirez

  1. While Ramirez has only caught 5 games, unlike Sanchez, when he was coming up, and was only a C/DH, Ramirez has also been playing some 1B too.

  2. Given how good Ben Rice looks as a prospective MLB catcher and how fast Rizzo seems to be aging, it would seem smart to give Ramirez a lot of reps at first base, while still giving him time at the catcher’s position. Think how great it would be if our starting catchers were Wells & Rice, assuming both hit well at the MLB level, with a back-up catcher playing first base. That would make any manager sleep better at night.

    However, while both Rice & Ramirez have good OBPs & Slugging Percentages, both need to improve substantially on their batting averages because .239 & .213, respectively, won’t cut it as a transition to superior MLB pitching.

    Moreover, while Ramirez’s improved K-rate of 17.8% is encouraging, Rice’s 24.36% K-rate against AAA pitchers is worrisome, in that 24.38% likely translate into an MLB K-rate of 35% or worse — and, no thank you, we already have Gleyber Torres “admirably fulfilling” that role in K-spades.

    Ramirez should be Loudly Applauded by every Yankees fan for his diligent work at improving as a catcher, even if he’s ultimately switched to 1B because it shows that he’s willing to work hard at improving his overall baseball & English-communication skills to improve his chances of being a viable MLB player.

    And any of us who, like myself, floundered pitifully in high-school Spanish, should Admire the dedication Ramirez has shown in learning more English to better communicate with his non-Hispanic-speaking teammates and coaches.

    Americans, in general, tend to grossly underestimate & under appreciate how DIFFICULT it is for people who come from non-English-speaking countries to learn our language.

    When I worked in IBM, about half the unit (approximately 80 people) came from India. All of them (without exception) were nice people & all were as proficient in English as the average college student, but some still had problems, on rare occasions, conveying Exactly what they meant in their second language of English.

    One very sweet Indian lady would apologize to me when she couldn’t quite find the correct words to convey her meaning, and I Always responded as follows: If you dropped me in the middle of India, far from the nearest city, I’d probably starve to death because I wouldn’t be able to make myself understood AT ALL in your native language. So, don’t apologize for having difficulty now-and-then with English, since you’re doing much better than I would in India.

    Unfortunately, too many Americans arrogantly equate NOT speaking English with mental inferiority. If you’re one of those people, go to the outskirts of India or China & try to make yourself even partially understood to someone who doesn’t speak English; then, maybe, you’ll appreciate that you’re the Stupid One for thinking all intelligent people should be able to speak our language.

    As an avid Yankees fan, I sincerely hope Ramirez & Rice continue to improve & have successful careers with the Yankees. It would be great to have 3 Young (Inexpensive!) Catchers on the team in Wells, Rice & Ramirez, if all 3 advance that far — without being used as trade bait, which is the likely fate for at least one of them, I imagine.

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