This offseason (which is now blessedly coming to an end), we’ve been counting down all 630 players to appear at the major league level for the Marlins.
Today, the 150th chapter in the series features a right-handed pitcher from Lubbock, Texas. Players are sorted in ascending value of bWAR divided by their collected PA/BF while with the Marlins. A.J. Ramos collected 6.6 bWAR in his six seasons with the Marlins.
For contexts sake, I think it’s worth it at this point to mention that fully half of the top 16 in our series were all on the club at the same time, in 2017.
16. A.J. Ramos
A.J. Ramos is a five-foot-10 product of Texas Tech University. In four seasons with the Red Raiders, he racked up a 16-16 division 1 record, starting in 44 of his 57 collegiate appearances and striking out 241 in 254 innings. Notably, he saved zero games.
In 2009, the Marlins decided that Ramos was worth a 21st round selection, little more than a flyer at that point of the draft. I’d say in this case their decision paid off nicely. In 2011 at the High-A level with the Jupiter Hammerheads, Ramos put up a 1.78 ERA with a 1.11 WHIP and 25 saves in 49 appearances. He also struck out 71 and walked only 19 in 50 2⁄3 innings.
Although Ramos was never a “rated” prospect, he still got to the majors with the Marlins in September 2012, striking out 13 in 9 1⁄3 innings over 11 games. More importantly, it seemed that Ramos was in the majors to stay.
Ramos appeared in 68 games for Miami in 2013, pitching a career-high 80 innings and striking out 86 batters. He posted a 1.263 WHIP while getting 63 percent of his pitches in the strike zone. On July 26, Ramos did his part in a five-hit, 2-0 shutout of the Pittsburgh Pirates by striking out the side in a perfect seventh inning.
Ramos also held opponents to a 3.15 ERA and a slashline of .201/.306/.298 that year. Although he still wasn’t a closer (80.7 percent of his pitching came in the seventh and eighth innings), Ramos was well on his way to earning the coveted role.
In 2014, Ramos stacked up some silly numbers. Overall, the opposition slashed .164/.307/.236 and struck out 73 times in 64 innings. On the road, Ramos was a little better even then that already impressive line, with a 1.56 ERA, a 1.096 WHIP, and the opponents managing to eke out a .145 batting average while slugging an anemic .222.
Ramos posted a 7-0 record through that season, with a 2.11 ERA and a 1.234 WHIP. Although he still wasn’t used as a closer, the time for it was getting, uh, closer. Ramos was used in higher leverage situations more often than not, and spent the majority of his game-action in the eighth inning.
In 2015, Ramos finally graduated to the closer position after incumbent Steve Cishek blew three of his first six save opportunities. Ramos responded with a career-best 1.009 WHIP. It wasn’t even that close to what was ultimately his second-best season in that particular metric (2014). Ramos saved 32 games in 38 opportunities, striking out 87 while walking only 26 in 70 1⁄3 frames. He plated 63 percent of his pitches, and again allowed the opposition a weak slash line, at .184/.268/.294 with a 2.30 ERA. His 11.1 K/9 was also a career-best.
The 2016 campaign would continue to see Ramos on top of his game, getting named to the National League All Star Team for the first time. He saved a career-best 40 games (in 43 opportunities) despite his WHIP inflating to 1.359, striking out exactly 73 in 64 innings for the second time in three years. He went 1-4 with a 2.81 ERA, putting 62 percent of his offerings between the wickets. On June 5, he pitched a perfect ninth inning for his 18th save of the year, striking out one batter to put the lid on a 1-0 win against the New York Mets.
Ramos started the 2017 campaign by saving 20 games in 22 attempts for Miami, striking out 47 batters in 39 2⁄3 innings and getting his WHIP to a more decent 1.311 mark. Near the trade deadline, the Marlins sent Ramos to the Mets for Merandy Gonzalez and Ricardo Cespedes.
Ramos saved seven games for the Mets to finish out 2017, then struggled to a 6.41 ERA in 19 2⁄3 innings without a save chance. A right-shoulder strain may have been to blame, and landed him on the injured list for the majority of the season. After sitting out in 2019, he joined the Los Angeles Dodgers at their minor league level, then made a cup-of-coffee appearance for the Colorado Rockies in 2020, striking out one and walking three in 2 2⁄3 innings. currently a free agent, Ramos is eyeing a return to major league play.