Q&A with Former Texas Tech RHP AJ Ramos (Miami Marlins)

Ramos is 3-1 with a 0.87 ERA in 42 appearances this year with 15 saves and 62 strikeouts

July 31, 2012

AJ Ramos most recently pitched at Texas Tech in 2009. Since then, all the Lubbock native and Estacado High School graduate has done is become one of the best relief pitchers in all of minor league baseball as a member of the Miami Marlins organization.

Ramos was a 21st round pick by the Marlins in 2009 and is currently in Double-A (Jacksonville) with the Marlins. For the third consecutive year, Ramos has been named a minor league all-star and is having a season to remember in the Southern League with a 3-1 record, 0.87 ERA, 42 appearances (all relief) with 15 saves, 51.2 innings, 24 hits allowed, 62 strikeouts and just 17 walks allowed.

In fact, Ramos has allowed just five earned runs and opponents are batting .136 against him this season. During his pro career, Ramos has made 165 appearances with a 2.18 ERA, pitched 194.1 innings, tallied 77 saves and recorded 261 strikeouts with only 82 walks allowed.

We caught up with the flame-throwing right-hander who has been clocked as high as 98 mph this year. Ramos talked about the grind of a minor league season, what adjustments he had to make moving to the bullpen after being a starter at Tech, who his favorite big leaguer is and if he has thought about getting that call that would make him a major leaguer.

Explain the grind of playing entire minor league season.
AJ Ramos: "It's definitely like you said a grind, you have to prepare for it mentally and physically. Last year I had a lot of one inning stints, and a lot of them were back-to-back. This year I'm throwing a lot of innings and I think this year I have already thrown more innings than I threw all of last year, and that's not only physical but mental. You have to be able to go out there everyday with the same intensity and be able to get better."

You were a starter at Texas Tech, how has the adjustment been moving to the bullpen in professional baseball?
AJ Ramos: "I like what I'm doing, closing is a lot of pressure but I love it. It took me about three or four games to get adjusted and up until now to get really comfortable with coming out of the pen because coming out of the pen you have to really be on point from pitch one and that's something as a starter that I kind of jolted around and had time to figure out my stuff. Out of the pen you have to be 100 percent and on point right out of the gate and I think that's what I had the most trouble with but now I have a pretty good handle on it."

Who is your favorite baseball player that you might try to emulate with the way you pitch?
AJ Ramos: "Mariano Rivera. I've liked him ever since I was five or six years old. I've always liked him and he's been one of my favorite players because he gets the job done almost every time and he's not flashy and doesn't talk a lot he just goes out there and gets the job done. He's very humble and that's the kind of player I want to be, someone who doesn't say much just goes out there and does his job and I think that's very big. Especially these days people like to show off. I want to let my work speak for itself."

You have had a lot of success the past several years. Who has been a major contributor in that success?
AJ Ramos: "I think it has to do with a combination of every pitching coach and management that I've been with in the minor leagues has taught me a little bit of something. They have helped get things through my head because I'm hard-headed and want to go hard every time instead of being relaxed and smooth and that's been my main problem is going out there and going too hard too fast. But they've found ways to tweak my mechanics so that I'm on point and I'm more relaxed and I've found ways, mentally, to help me pitch to hitters mentally first and that's a big part, and to go out there and actually do it."

Is there one specific coach that stands out?
AJ Ramos: "It's been a bunch of people. They all tell me a little bit different. Just different things that resonate with me."

What do you think of all the changes in the Marlins organization over the past few years?
AJ Ramos: "I'm definitely excited about it, the possibility getting called up and being in that organization and it's new and changing and you want to be a part of that. But if you think about it too much I think it can hurt you also. So you have to know that could be a part of your future and work towards that, but at the same time get that out of your mind and perform night after night on the task at hand, which is right now. You have to be right here in the now moment and if you worry too much about the future you kind of get thrown off and that's one thing that I've really tried to focus on is not to look at numbers or anything like that. I just think about literally going pitch to pitch and outing to outing and I think so far that's worked out for me. I think that's the best way to do it."

When do you think the "label" of when you were drafted or how much you signed for in pro ball goes away and you become the player that you actually are?
AJ Ramos: "That was a big part when I got drafted. Of course when management gives you a lot of money they're going to give you a lot of chances. With me, they didn't invest very much money so I had to go out and perform and again, the pressure of performing, because you don't have any money to fall back on and that's a lot of pressure but again I live for that, that's why I'm a closer, I love that pressure. I guess you try to be as consistent as possible and work hard and try and go out everyday and give it all you've got. I think once you start to produce and come in to your own I think they realize that the money that was given to you doesn't matter and what matters is how you're performing now. I've been able to perform pretty well and I think it's just kind of up to the coordinators and everybody to go off what you're doing rather than what you signed for."

How would you describe your mentality as a pitcher?
AJ Ramos: "What the coordinators tell me is: "Controlled Aggression" that's what I am. My delivery is not easy, there's nothing easy about it. I go 100 percent every time that I attack the zone with everything that I have. It's about me and the batter and if I throw to my strengths 100 percent of the time. Now if my strength is his strength, then we will see who's better. That's my mentality, here's my best pitch - get it if you can -that's the way I attack the zone and the hitters. Sometimes it gets me in trouble but for the most part it's worked for me."

What is your best pitch, what you would consider your out-pitch?
AJ Ramos: "I'd have to say my fastball. I clocked out at 98 mph two weeks ago and recently I think I was 92-96."

How do you attack the zone?
AJ Ramos: "I try and stay in the bottom of the zone, but I throw a four-seam and a cutter and my two seam is 92-95."

How do you think the adversity you experienced at Tech has helped you in your career?
AJ Ramos: "I went through a lot at Tech, I had a broken wrist and went through Tommy John surgery, but I guess it helped me prepare for adversity now. It helped me work and grow-up and be my own man. Pitching against the Big 12 competition is just like pitching against Double-A hitters - it might be even harder to pitch at Tech because they hit with metal bats but the competition level in the Big 12 is ridiculous. I play against a lot of those guys now, and I think the competition level really helped me out as far as where I am now, as far as figuring out hitters, it was a good experience."

Having to spend so much time in the training room at Texas Tech, what was your relationship like with trainer Shawn Lindsey and how was he able to help you get back on the field?
AJ Ramos: "Shawn is awesome, I still talk to him now and if I have a little tweak or something sometimes I'll talk to him and get his opinion on it. I got back after Tommy John in nine months - throwing in games - and that's really quick, and a lot of that has to do with Shawn. He was able to work with me and level with me, because like I said I'm stubborn, and I wanted to keep pushing forward and he was able to keep me back to where I needed to be and he kept me on the field."

Looking back now, what are some of your favorite memories from your time at Texas Tech? It can be anytime during your time at Tech.
AJ Ramos: "Well there's a couple. On the field when I started against Texas my freshman year it was my first Big 12 start and my first Big 12 game and the atmosphere, even though it was really cold, I remember it felt like the World Series. All my family and friends were there and it was just amazing. As far as practices and stuff like that was listening to Coach Hays and telling his jokes and listening to the things he said and how the guys responded to what he was saying it's something that just sticks in my head. As far as off the field, just hanging out with all the guys, (Roger) Kieschnick and all the guys and all the time we spent at Brian Cloud's house sitting around talking it was good times.

How nice is it being from Lubbock and being able to come back to your hometown and to Tech?
AJ Ramos: "Every off season I go back. I can work out at Tech and do everything I need to do. It's something you can't compare to anything, there are great people and there's always something to do there. So it's always a great time when I go back."

Do you think about getting called up to the big leagues and has the organization given you a time-frame on possibly getting that call?
AJ Ramos: "I think about it, it's tough not to, but I've talked to my agent and the coordinators and my manager and they're saying there is nothing more that I can do right now, that I'm doing everything I need to. It's just a matter of availability, if someone gets hurt. But they say I'm definitely in the talks and the conversations for getting called up. As far as when there's no timetable for that, it could be in the next two days, or the end of September, or not until next year. They just keep telling me to do what I'm doing and good things will come."




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