With Spring Training now in the home stretch, Bleeding Yankee Blue is continuing this series, highlighting the kids that are vying for a coveted spot on the major league roster, and that we may see later this season. We are going over their respective backgrounds – how they have been playing, their strengths, their weaknesses, and what to look for.
Ramon Flores has quickly gotten our attention and that of the Yankees coaching staff. He is a 23-year old outfielder from Venezuela, signed by the Yankees in 2008. Despite missing some time last year due to an ankle injury, he has shown the Yankees some pop in his bat and good coverage in the field. He was able to generate an OPS of .815 and an OBP of .343 at the AAA level, where he spent essentially almost the whole year.
The thing that stands out to me about this kid has been his performance in the last week in stress situations. Last week in a game against the Detroit Tigers, in the Yankees' final at-bat and down by two, he hit a walk-off 3-run home run for the win. This week, when the Yankees were down by one with men in scoring position, he hit a sharp single to tie the game. I know the sample set is small, but the kid is showing a lot of heart that is not always obvious from the stats without looking deeper. It would huge for the team to have a clutch player performing at that level.
He comes with some issues that he and the Yankees will have to work out. He is very patient at the plate, but the criticism on him is that he can take too many pitches. He has a lot of walks, but he also has a lot of strikeouts, particularly of the reverse-K variety. The other problem - maybe the bigger problem - is that the Yankees have a crowded outfield. At best, barring injury, he would be the Yankees 4th outfielder.
The Yankees need clutch players, ones that will win the game with one swing of the bat. Those players need to have a road paved for them to the Bronx. Did I mention that he hit a walk-off 3-run home run? Clearly, he can handle pressure, and he can play. Now we need Mr. Cashman and Mr. Girardi to figure out how to get him in Bronx pinstripes.
--Ike Dimitriadis, BYB Senior Staff Writer
My blog is: Shots from Murderer's Row
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