Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, I’m going to make a huge assumption. You kinda dig presents. Or, as I’ll refer to them the rest of this article, prezzies. Whether it’s a heavily wrapped piece of welcomed apparel, some adult beverage with a ribbon slapped on the top or the side, or some cash in an unadorned envelope, we all dig prezzies. Part of it is being remembered. Part of it is someone having taken the time to listen to our wishes. And at least a little part of it is the anticipation is wondering how good it’s going to be to enjoy... whatever the heck it is. The glint in the eyes of the recipient who finally gets that thing they’ve wanted for so long is priceless.
Sometimes, a prezzie comes with little warning. Maybe it isn’t on a traditional day for receiving gifts. Or, it’s something entirely unexpected. Perhaps, you look at the package, and still have no idea. In mid-January 2021, Arizona Phil sent Cubs fans a missive. It noted the Cubs Opening Day international signings. Cristian Hernandez was atop the prezzie list. Moises Ballesteros was second. Thirteenth on the list was the following...
B/R 5-9 165
.....with two more names after that. As unassuming as anything. No hint that Ramirez’ OPS in the DSL was going to be better than Hernandez’ (by a tune of .919 to .822). Only a note that he had been signed.
For any of you who follow the box scores from Boca Chica, or follow my Twitter at @tim815, the Dominican League season was a state of constantly being shocked that this seeming afterthought was playing as well as he did.
I suppose it’s possible that Ramirez really isn’t a good player at all, and that he merely shredded only the bad pitchers at the lowest level there is. He certainly didn’t get much play from Baseball America, Fangraphs, or Baseball Prospectus. Perhaps his late-season extra-base hits were all wind-blown. Maybe facing better pitching will make him look like a more ordinary non-prospect. The package of one season of DSL stats makes his prezzie look like the one I want to open.
Once minor league players are playing in Mesa, Ramirez (who is from Temblador, Venezuela, and was born on April 1, 2004, making him among the youngest Cubs under contract) should be among them. He and Hernandez ought to be getting “starter’s innings” on a team in Mesa through the summer. With more experts watching him, we’ll get better and more regular updates on Ramirez’ progress.
On the other side of the equation, though, next month. In the middle of the month. Arizona Phil will send us another missive. Another list of names. We’ve been teased with some of the names. They’ll start playing games in the Cubs complex in Boca Chica. Maybe one of them will far exceed expectations.