Wilkin Ramirez arguably had reason to hang his head wonder about his place after starting the season back in Double-A and watching fellow Tigers outfield prospects Brennan Boesch and Casper Wells get their shots in the big leagues. Instead, he’s happy for Boesch to be breaking through and using it as proof that youngsters can get an opportunity in Detroit.
Likewise, Ramirez could’ve treated his second Futures Game appearance in three years as a repeat trip. But he looks at it as a new vote of confidence from Tigers management.
“I started my year in Double-A,” Ramirez said. “When you move backwards, you have that little thing in your mind. Getting invited here, it gives you a lot of confidence. I thank the Tigers for that. I feel pretty good.
“I want to thank the Tigers and whoever made the decision to pick me to be here. It gave me a lot of confidence, and I feel very good. At the beginning, I felt left out. It gave me a lot of confidence, and I’m happy to be here.”
Ramirez went 1-for-2 with a single and a fly out in Sunday’s Futures Game. It was a midseason honor in what has been a mixed bag of a season for the 24-year-old multi-tooled prospect.
His athleticism has always wowed. As team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski put it a couple weeks ago, when the Futures Game rosters came out, “He’s the type of guy that you’re always hoping that at some point he’s just going to put it all together. If he does, then he has the chance to be a star.”
His stats reflect the potential. His strikeout totals are astounding, 128 of them over 356 plate appearances between Double-A Erie and Triple-A Toledo. Yet exactly half of his 76 hits have gone for extra bases — 18 home runs, 14 doubles and six triples.
“Especially at the beginning of the year, I was more aggressive, because I think I was trying to do too much,” Ramirez said. “I didn’t really want to be there. I wasn’t expecting to be there, so I wanted to do the best I can, so I was trying too hard.”
An early-season vote of support from Erie manager Phil Nevin, he said, gave him a boost. Renewed confidence from Mud Hens manager Larry Parrish and hitting coach Leon Durham have helped, too.
He admits he has a problem with strikeouts, but he’s trying to focus on making sure his swings are productive. He swung at all three pitches he saw Sunday, and put two of them in play.
He doesn’t look at the Tigers roster picture as an opportunity passed up. He looks at Boesch as inspiration.
“You know what? I’m so happy for Boesch, that he’s doing that good,” Ramirez said. “Every at-bat, every home run that he hits, it makes me feel good myself. Boesch works so hard. Boesch played at Double-A last year, and that showed a lot of people that young people can go to the big leagues and do very very good. And that made me so happy that he’s doing that.”