Before spring training begun I had written a piece on the possibility of moving Jose Ramirez to the pen. While exploring the possibility I had stated that it was still too early to make the decision. As it turns out he was just one injury away from making the move official. In an interview with mlb.com, Brian Cashman reported that Ramirez will be turned into a reliever.
He claimed that the decision was due to Ramirez's lengthily injury history. It turns out that the injury Ramirez sustained this offseason was the last straw for Cashman, and gave him no other choice but to make Ramirez a reliever.
Like I said before, Ramirez would make a very good reliever. Think of how highly rated Bruce Rondon was last season to get a picture of just how hyped Ramirez would be in relief. To prove this point, Kiley McDaniel's who considered him a reliever before this announcement rated him as a top 100 prospect.
Truthfully Ramirez projects better as a reliever than as a starter, as it allows him to become a two pitch pitcher. He has a very good fastball that sits in mid-to-upper 90s and he compliments his fastball with a plus changeup. Baseball America reported that the scouting grade for his changeup is easily a 60, and that the pitch often gets mistaken for a splitter.
In addition to these two pitches, he also throws a slider. His slider is inconsistent at times, but can be an average pitch. As a reliever he probably wouldn't need to throw it as often, but it should be noted that the Yankees pitching coach, Larry Rothschild, is very good at improving that particular pitch. Even if his slider doesn't improve, he could still be a future closer. Baseball Prospectus had this ceiling in mind when they ranked him as the teams second best prospect this past offseason.
With Ramirez officially a reliever he has a very good chance of making the team this season, and should put a damper on the Yankees reported interest in adding another reliever. Though I suppose that the team would still trade for a reliever if he had a proven track record. Either way Ramirez gives the team a great future option, as he has much upside as any reliever in the system.
He really adds to an exciting group of Yankee relief options that includes: Dellin Betances, Mark Montgomery, and Danny Burawa. The exciting part of this group is that they are all young pitchers, whose ceilings suggest they can make good late inning relievers. Yankee fans should be very excited about the future bullpen depth of this team.