Double-A infield prospect Jose Ramirez and recently acquired catcher Kelly Shoppach are expected to be added to the Indians roster on Sunday when rosters expand, according to Indians Baseball Insider’s Tony Lastoria (here and here).
The Shoppach news is entirely expected after he signed with the team on Friday to become its third catcher. The shocking news is the reported promotion of the 20-year-old Ramirez, labeled as a top-10 prospect in the organization prior to the season.
Reportedly, Ramirez’s Akron teammate, outfielder Tyler Holt, inadvertently broke the news on Twitter, then later removed the tweet. The Indians usually have a set policy of not letting players announce roster moves until their media relations staff makes it official. Pitcher Danny Salazar previously announced his own promotion to Triple-A Columbus in May.
A product of the Dominican Republic, Ramirez actually skipped High-A to play the 2013 season with the Aeros. He’ll now also skip Triple-A, becoming one of the fastest rising — and youngest — players to reach Cleveland in quite some time. In fact, the last under-21 position player to reach Cleveland was Jim Thome back in 1991.
A speedy player with an advanced approach at the plate, he was batting .273/.327/.351 in 112 games in Akron this season. He leads the Eastern League with 38 steals, although he’s been caught 16 times. He’s not much of a power hitter at all with only 16 doubles and 25 total extra-base hits.
Ramirez broke out as a prospect with a sensational 67-game stretch for Single-A Lake County in 2012. He batted .354/.403/.462 with 15 steals. Over the last two seasons, he’s had nearly an even BB/K rate, which is dazzling for a player with his age and experience, similar to his current teammate 19-year-old Francisco Lindor.
This is a pretty surprising move, even with Ramirez’s success and development. According to Lastoria’s tweets, this could be a try-out for Ramirez to serve as an infield stopgap over the next year. He could perhaps see time at shortstop and third base. He was primarily a second baseman in the minors, but saw time at those other two positions in 2013.
This also shows how the Indians likely don’t see very highly of struggling 24-year-old Columbus infielder Juan Diaz, who appeared in some games last season. A pair of 40-man moves — possibly involving Diaz at least — will need to take place for Shoppach and Ramirez to be added to the roster.