From Photobucket, by Tony Lastoria

Cleveland Indians 2013 Top Prospects No. 6: Jose Ramirez

Continuing the onslaught of middle infielders in the Indians’ farm system is Jose Ramirez, who I believe represents the next tier of prospects on this list. Ramirez gets lost in the shuffle amongst the Tribe’s myriad of middle infielders, but he has the best chance to push Jason Kipnis for playing time in Cleveland someday. Not to say that Ramirez has that kind of upside, but of those destined to play second base, I like his skill set the most.

After serving as the double-play partner to Francisco Lindor in Lake County last year, Ramirez boasted a gaudy .354/.403/.462 triple slash. Those numbers put Ramirez on ESPN’s Keith Law’s radar, who named him one of 10 prospects who just missed his top 100.

At only 5’9″, Ramirez will never be a power threat and he has so-so gap power at this point in his career. His hit tool looks to be plus, as evidenced by his .342 career batting average in two minor league seasons. Combine that with above-average speed and put him at a thin position like second base, and Ramirez looks to have the upside of an above-average second baseman.

However, due to the Tribe’s depth Ramirez seems destined for utility duty if he stays within the Cleveland organization, especially since he plays shortstop well. Ramirez has no experience at third base in the minors, so if the Indians plan on grooming him for utility duty he could start to see time at the hot corner as he might have to share time with Francisco Lindor and Tony Wolters as they move through the system.

Ramirez could get the Cord Phelps treatment as his career continues, getting plenty of time around the infield in the high minors in the next two years. Another comparison could be Mike Aviles, though while Aviles could have a 10/10 or 15/15 season with full playing time, Ramirez has more of a 5/20 skill set.

But the real difference is that hit tool. Ramirez has the contact ability to easily hit above .300 for multiple seasons, and he rarely strikes out as well (he only struck out in 8 percent of his PAs in 2012). That’s the makings of an impressive although under-the-radar prospect, continuing the trend for the Tribe.

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