What to expect from Mets prospect Alex Ramirez in 2023
The Mets recently announced 15 players would be invited to big league spring training as non 40-man roster invites. Every year the non-roster players are a mix of veterans on minor league deals and prospects from within the team’s system. On this year’s list is the top outfield prospect in the system, Alex Ramirez.
Now, let’s not get it twisted. Ramirez is not making the Mets' big league roster out of camp, and it is highly unlikely we see him in Queens at all in 2023. But it is still an exciting opportunity for the recently turned 20-year-old, as he will be able to work with hitting coach Jeremy Barnes as well as get to bend the ear of veteran outfielders like Starling Marte, Brandon Nimmo and Mark Canha.
Even if Ramirez's stay in camp is short before he is sent back to the minor league backfields, there is still a lot he can take from this experience.
These are the types of things the Mets envisioned when they signed Ramirez as a 16-year-old in 2019 out of the Dominican Republic for $2.05 million. In the 2019 international class, Ramirez was the 26th-ranked prospect per MLB Pipeline and became just the third Mets international signing, along with Francisco Álvarez and Ronny Mauricio, to receive a bonus north of $2 million.
It started in 2018. Then-Mets international scouting director Chris Becerra got his eyes on Ramirez and loved the athlete. He wrote a glowing report of the type of prospect he thought Ramirez was.
The Mets then sent in Steve Barningham, who succeeded Becerra as international scouting director, to take a look -- and he followed up with an equally glowing report. This led to vice president of international and amateur scouting Tommy Tanous flying down to the Dominican Republic to watch their future $2 million investment.
What stood out to the Mets immediately was his plus speed and effortless ability to track the ball off the bat in center field. There was little organizational doubt that Ramirez had the tools to play center field.
In 2022, the 19-year-old Ramirez split the season between Low-A St. Lucie and High-A Brooklyn, and hit .281 with a .346 on-base percentage and .782 OPS. He tapped into some extra-base hit power, with 48 extra-base hits, including 11 home runs, 30 doubles and seven triples. He also stole 21 bases, albeit being caught 16 times, so there is room for growth on his jumps and reads when attempting to steal bases.
In 2023, I would expect Ramirez to repeat High-A Brooklyn to start the season with a likely call-up to Double-A Binghamton perhaps sometime before mid-summer.
Ramirez is also now starting to crack top 100 prospect lists nationally. At MLB Pipeline, he came in at No. 96. Keith Law at The Athletic had him No. 68, and Baseball America had him at No. 92. I believe a year from now, he could be represented much, much higher on these lists.
He is the best athlete in the system who when you watch him play center field defense, it almost looks like he is gliding to the baseball from gap to gap. Offensively, he has made strides in his bat-to-ball skills, and the in-game power right now is largely doubles. But as he physically matures (he is listed 6-foot-3 and 196 pounds) the Mets expect to see some of those doubles go over the fence.
Ramirez naturally has plenty to work on as a 20-year-old still in the low minors. His pitch-selection could use more improvement, though you did see him start to take more walks as the season progressed. I like to think of improving pitch selection more as giving yourself the best chance to find a pitch to do damage to, not so much just drawing walks. His swing plane can get a little flat at times which can limit the power output a player provides.
With all of that said, Ramirez is an incredibly exciting prospect who shows a semblance of all five tools, and could be looked at as the center fielder of the future for the Mets if he continues to work and really refine his still-raw skill set. And Mets fans may be able to get a sneak peek at him in some big league spring training games this year.