Listed below are a few additional notes on the newest Rangers catching prospect, Max Ramirez, who was acquired on Friday for Kenny Lofton:
Back in February, Nate Silver touched on Ramirez in BP Unfiltered:
Ramirez doesn�t have a player card up yet, but if he did you�d see some fairly impressive raw totals; he�s a lifetime .303/.401/.481 hitter in the minor leagues. The problem is with the way that Ramirez has been putting up those numbers. A large part of his value comes from his high walk rate, but he hasn�t been young for his levels and he strikes out a lot, which suggests that a lot of those walks result from exploiting weak A-Ball pitching, rather than a core competency for pitch recognition.
Silver also mentioned Max's less than impressive defense behind the plate, and eventually settled on calling him "Ryan Garko with less power." Of course, Garko is hitting .313/.382/.517 with 13 HR in 288 AB this year for the Indians.
This season, however, Ramirez was crushing high-A ball pitching to the tune of .303/.418/.505 in 277 AB. Still a very high walk rate, as well as a slightly lower strikeout rate (22.7% of his ABs in 2007, as compared to 24.9% last year), all while playing a level higher on the minor league totem pole in the Carolina League. In addition, his double and home run rates have improved as well. Pretty impressive stuff.
And for what it's worth, Baseball Prospectus's Christina Kahrl seems pretty pleased with the return Jon Daniels got for Lofton:
A nifty pickup, so at least there's something that Jon Daniels can feel good about. This is a good old-fashioned bit of flipping, where a brief rental on Lofton may not have helped propel the Rangers to the front of the class, but it does bring them a nifty catching prospect. As Kevin Goldstein noted ten days ago, Ramirez isn't much behind the plate, but he is nevertheless one of the best prospects behind the plate around the minor leagues.
Maybe I'm overly optimistic about the possibility, but having seen catchers as initially bad, brutal, or indifferent as Mike Stanley, Don Slaught, or even Jorge Posada improve with coaching, it's important to note that while catching is a pretty unique skill, it is not one where there's an easily-predicted career arc for guys behind the plate as they get older. Some can be fixed and become perfectly acceptable big league catchers, and some guys are Matt Nokes. With Ramirez, I'd take a wait and see approach, and not be in any hurry to move out from backstopping.
As you may already know, Ramirez has been assigned to high-A Bakersfield, while Taylor Teagarden has been promoted to Double-A Frisco. Ramirez went 1 for 4 on Saturday night for the Blaze.
With the Braves deal for Saltalamacchia seemingly on the ropes, it's good to know at least the Rangers are well stocked for the future at one very important position - catcher.