When the Brewers selected Nick Ramirez in the fourth round of the 2011 draft out of Cal State Fullerton, there were some who thought he might make a better pitcher than hitter. The big slugger from Anaheim Hills played first base for the Titans while also serving as the team’s closer, but the Brewers liked his bat and opted to have him play first. After six minor league seasons as a first baseman, Ramirez moved back to the mound in 2017, settling into a bullpen spot with the Double-A Biloxi Shuckers.
That doesn’t mean Ramirez will stop swinging the bat however. In his first pinch-hit appearance of the season, an April 13th contest against Pensacola, Ramirez stepped to the plate and slugged his 94th career home run, accounting for Biloxi’s only run of the game.
“I hadn’t had an at-bat in a month-and-a-half.” Ramirez told Biloxi play-by-play man Chris Harris. “Luckily I took BP that day because that was the first swings I’ve taken since spring training. I saw the ball well and actually threw me a slider that I could handle and I knew I got enough of it to get it out. That was definitely an at-bat to remember. It was fun.”
If hitting a home run wasn’t enough of a contribution, Ramirez remained in the game to toss a scoreless inning of relief as well, something he’s shown the ability to do on a fairly regular basis. In six outings, spanning five and one-third innings, Ramirez has gone 1-0 with a 1.69 earned run average while holding opposing hitters to a .167 average. He surrendered his first earned run of the season on Wednesday night, but so far, the move to the mound has been a good one for Ramirez.
“It’s a breath of fresh air” said Ramirez. “It’s more relaxed. I like it. I’m adjusting well to it. Because I do like my changeup so much, I’m more comfortable throwing to right-handed hitters but now I’m getting comfortable with left-handed hitters the more I face them. I like my changeup, I like my curveball and I like my fastball.”
There’s a lot to like about Ramirez’s transition to the mound thus far and he’s hopeful it will put him on the fast track to Milwaukee. “Obivously I think God has a plan for me, for everyone, and I’m just thankful for the opportunity I’ve been given and I’m trying to just take advantage of it.”
BILOXI GAME NOTES: WEDNESDAY, APRIL 19TH
⦿ Shortstop Mauricio Dubon belted his first home run of the season in the second game of the Shuckers doubleheader and wound up going 3-for-7 with a pair of RBI on the night. He has hit safely in five of his last six games now and also collected his sixth stolen base of the season in game one.
⦿ Outfielder Victor Roache also had a multi-hit night, collecting a single and driving in a run in game one, then following that up with a pair of hits and two RBI in game two. The 25-year-old former first round pick saw his average jump 33 points with his performance and he helped to jumpstart Biloxi’s rally in game two.
⦿ Taylor Williams continues to look impressive as he makes his way back from Tommy John surgery. He got the starting nod in game one of Biloxi’s doubleheader, which picked up in the third inning after being suspended by rain the night before. Williams worked three innings, allowing just one run on a home run off the bat of Chattanooga outfielder LaMonte Wade. He did not walk a batter and six of the nine outs he recorded came via the strikeout, giving the 25-year-old righty 11 K’s in eight innings of work.
⦿ Matt Ramsey, a Rule Five pick-up from the Miami Marlins, continued his string of dominant late-inning relief work, turning in a 1-2-3 seventh inning to earn his third save of the season in game two. The 27-year-old Ramsey is unscored upon in any of his first six outings, allowing just three total hits. He has struck out five and the only walk he has issued was of the intentional variety, posting a WHIP of 0.75.