The player everyone around Atlanta Braves spring camp is talking about this week is outfielder Wilkin Ramirez. He is a former top prospect for the Tigers, whom the Braves acquired at the trade deadline last year for a player to be named or cash (neither of which the Braves have sent to the Tigers yet). He's got talent, but like many other kids with tools he hasn't been able to put it all together. The Braves are sounding more optimistic though:
This offseason, Ramirez -- admittedly motivated by the Tigers' decision to cut ties with him -- worked "the hardest I've ever worked in my life." He went back to his home city of Bani, where he ran up mountains, sprinted on the sand and had friends throw him countless breaking balls and changeups all winter.
This spring, Parrish has been trying to get Ramirez's hands looser in the hope that it will help his swing become more fluid, so he took his bat off his shoulder and got him to hold it more upright prior to loading.
One of the drills they've tried has Ramirez sitting on a chair while hitting, so that he can concentrate more on hand rhythm than leg movement. After trying it for the first time on Sunday, Ramirez filled in for Jason Heyward and had many raving about his 2-for-4, three-RBI game.
And here's the comp from hitting coach Larry Parrish:
When asked which ballplayer Ramirez reminds him most of, Parrish didn't hesitate.
"Moises Alou," he declared. Of course, that's only if he cashes in on his hard-to-miss gifts.
If he can somehow work out, then that would be a nice bonus. But as we learned yesterday, even a strong spring from a broken toy shouldn't make you forget about his past.