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Mariners select RHP Yohan Ramirez in 2019 Rule 5 draft

The Mariners also made two selections in the minor-league portion, and didn’t lose Ljay Newsome or anyone else to other clubs, so a good day all around

The Mariners were rumored to have two pitchers on their wish list and were willing to sit out the Rule 5 draft if those names weren’t available. Apparently at least one of them was, as Seattle took Yohan Ramirez from the Astros with the sixth overall selection.

The Astros have been hoarding high-velocity low-command arms for a while and Ramirez is no different. Between High-A Fayetteville and Double-A Corpus Christi, he struck out over a third of batters faced in over 100 innings thanks to a fastball that sits 94-97 and can touch 99. He also has, from varying reports, a changeup, a curveball, or a slider as his primary secondary pitch (Kyle Glaser from BA says changeup and slider; FanGraphs says curve). The problem for the 24-year-old Ramirez, as it is for many Astros prospects, is his walk rate; he’s walked at least 10% of batters at every level, and that number ballooned to an ugly 18.3% in just over 62 innings at Double-A this year.

Command issues are notoriously difficult to fix, but the Mariners either see something in Ramirez they think they can address, or are just willing to roll the dice on returning him if they can’t tame his wildness. When the upside looks like this, the dice roll becomes a bit more palatable.

A move to the bullpen and focusing on one of his secondary pitches should help Ramirez throw more strikes. The Mariners might back Ramirez off the velocity a little as well, as they did with Austin Adams, to see if they can reign in his command. Watching this video from 2018, you can see how much harder Ramirez throws when there’s a batter in the box vs. his warmup pitches, indicating he might be letting the game speed up on him some and losing his mechanics as he does battle (some of the way off-target pitches go with some pretty sloppy follow-through). John sees some Justin Verlander in the slightly angled leg lift, which would make sense: Ramirez is listed at about 30 pounds lighter than his former organization-mate, but has a similar frame at 6’4” with some room to put on muscle.

With the Mariners non-tendering Domingo Santana and trading Omar Narvaez, the club was shaping up to have zero Latin players in 2020, so as things currently stand, Ramirez will be the lone representative from Latin America for as long as he can stick on the roster.

The Mariners also selected three players in the minor-league phase of the draft: Brian O’Keefe, a 26-year-old catcher most recently with St. Louis’s Double-A club; 23-year-old Jhonny Santos who repeated High-A with the Marlins last season; and 1B Dariel Gomez, also from St. Louis’s organization, who played in a career-high 63 (?) games this season in his first appearance above rookie ball. O’Keefe I remember being unimpressed with in the Texas League, as my primary memories are of him flailing away at various offerings from the Travelers’ pitching staff; a modest 20% K rate suggests that was probably more a factor of Arkansas’ worldbeating pitchers than any fault of Mr. O’Keefe, although meh numbers coupled with apparently meh catching ability (O’Keefe is large-bodied and not especially spry behind the plate) temper any potential excitement. The arm isn’t bad, though:

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Great throw by Brian O'Keefe ends third inning.

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Jhonny Santos is a former KATOH darling whose 8% K-rate in rookie ball was Eric Filia-esque; sadly those numbers crept up to more mortal levels as he advanced through the Marlins system, although he’s continued to post strong walk rates at every level. Santos is Panamanian and currently playing winter ball there if you’re inclined to check him out. Other than that, Santos is probably most well-known for being the player starring opposite Miss Lou Lou Gehrig, Very Good Bat Dog, in this viral MiLB video:

Dariel Gomez I don’t know much about but he has a very active Twitter account which includes retweets ranging from Dwayne Wade praising Felix Hernandez to Mike Leach, so I’m pretty sure he’s an honorary member of Seattle Twitter already.

He can flip a bat, too.

Didn't catch Dariel Gomez smash a 3-run walkoff homer in the 7th inning of last night's second game to give the #SCSpikes a doubleheader sweep and a 6-1 start, the best ever after 7 games in franchise history? See and hear it now - the #SCSpikes are back home Tuesday!

Posted by State College Spikes on Friday, June 21, 2019

Unlike last year, where the Mariners lost three players in the minor-league portion of the Rule 5, things were quiet on the player loss front this year. Despite much pearl-clutching from yours truly over the possibility of losing Ljay Newsome, he was unselected in the draft, meaning we’ll get to see Ljay take on the Texas League this year. The Mariners also didn’t lose anyone else in the draft, either at the major or minor-league portions, which is good news for the immediate future but probably also doesn’t suggest great things about the farm system as a whole. Who cares, this Jack Anderson is ours and you cannot have it.