Ramirez’s Route To Professional Baseball
Baseball has been part of RoughRiders’ pitcher Neil Ramirez since he was five years old. He started playing on tournament teams when he was around ten years old including a team called the Virginia Heat which was in the AAU. The spark that began his Ramirez’s initial interest in pitching came from a certain major league team.
“My favorite team growing up was the Atlanta Braves,” Ramirez said. “I loved the whole pitching staff, watching Smoltz, Glavine, Maddux, all those guys.”
High school ball was where Ramirez started garnering attention and standing out.
“I played all four years on the varsity team,” Ramirez said. “I wasn’t the main pitcher I would say until my junior year. We had a pretty good team. A couple of guys ended up playing at D-III schools and one kid, Matt Little, is in pro ball right now with the Tigers.”
Ramirez was drafted in the first round of the 2007 draft by the Texas Rangers out of Kempsville High School. He said he remembers draft day.
“(It was) nerve-wracking. It’s just kind of a waiting game waiting for your name to be called,” Ramirez said. “I heard different things from different people about where I was going to go so it was cool. It was an awesome experience.”
The biggest decision Ramirez had to make was deciding whether or not to go to college before pursuing professional baseball.
“It was a tough decision. It took all summer for us to kind of decide, me and my family,” Ramirez said. That was definitely one of the tougher decisions because I was going to Georgia Tech which at the time had two of my friends that were committed there and they ended up being top picks also so we would have had a really good staff.”
After deciding to return to college later and sign with the Rangers, his experience in the farm system began in Short Season Spokane. He said it was definitely a learning process.
“It was the first time out on my own really. That’s what I definitely remember a lot, just growing up and learning how to take care of myself,” Ramirez said. “I had a great group of guys that I played with. Zaneski’s still here playing with me now. We had a real fun team up in Spokane. We ended up winning that league that year too which was really neat to get a ring our first year.”
Ramirez spent the next two seasons pitching in Low-A Hickory before being promoted to High-A Myrtle Beach in 2011. He didn’t spend much time there as he was promoted to Double-A Frisco after one game. He made six appearances with the RoughRIders before moving up to Triple-A Round Rock. He began the 2012 season in Triple-A before returning to Frisco. Ramirez said he realizes why and hopes to continue and build upon the skills he has.
“I struggled in Round Rock which everybody goes through so I learned to deal with it. I got sent down here realizing that it’s all a process and not about right now. It’s about the future so I’m just continuing to try to get better every day,” Ramirez said. “I want to be consistent and go out there every five days and give my team a chance to win. I think if I can go out there and compete, battle hitters and stuff like that, it will work out.”
Story by Jarah Wright