About to finish his fourth season in the minors, Jacksonville Suns pitcher A.J. Ramos was looking forward to going home to Lubbock, Texas, this week.
But just days before he was to depart for home, there was a change of plans. Suns manager Andy Haines told him the team had cancelled his flight from Memphis to Lubbock, and Ramos now had two options.
The first option was to drive from Memphis to Jacksonville to catch a flight to Lubbock. The second option was to fly to Miami and join the Marlins.
[Haines] shook my hand and it was just an amazing feeling feelings Ive never even felt before, Ramos said of his first call-up. It was crazy.
Manager Ozzie Guillen said Ramos, who had 21 saves and a 1.44 ERA in Double A, had impressed him all year long.
This kid has had a great year, Guillen said. Ive liked him since spring training, and I think he deserved to be here right now. He earned it. Hes one of the best pitchers in the organization.
Wearing an major-league uniform for the time, Ramos attributed his improvement this year to a higher degree of confidence in his pitches, which helped him increase his velocity.
My velocity was great this year, Ramos said. Before, I was always focused on not throwing balls. This year, I knew I could throw strikes, so I was more confident, and I was able to let it go in the strike zone.
Ramos was picked by the Marlins in the 21st round of the 2009 draft after playing at Texas Tech.
Catcher Rob Brantly has been getting a lot of opportunities recently because Guillen wants to test the rookies consistency, the manager said.
This kid swings the bat pretty good, Guillen said. I want to see how this guy plays back-to-back-to-back games. I think he deserves to be back in the lineup.
Brantly has started the past four games in a row and has been much improved at the plate during the past week.
After batting .118 in his first five games, Brantly has since hit .381 through Monday to raise his overall average to .263.
Brantly said he thinks he was too eager to swing when he first joined the Marlins.
Im feeling better at the plate, breathing a lot easier, Brantly said. Its about really seeing the pitch, rather than being a little too over aggressive and swinging right out of the chute.
Always a threat on the base paths, Jose Reyes has been putting his speed to good use recently.
Reyes has stolen four bases during the past three games, but he said it is not something he has been specifically focusing on this week.
I have to take advantage when the pitcher is slow to home plate, Reyes said. If I see that, then Im going to go.
Reyes has 33 stolen bases for the season, putting him five behind Braves outfielder Michael Bourn for the National League lead.
• Wednesday: Marlins RHP Nathan Eovaldi (4-10, 4.48 ERA) vs. Brewers RHP Wily Peralta, 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.
• Thursday: Marlins RHP Josh Johnson (7-11, 3.86) vs. Brewers RHP Marco Estrada, 12:40 p.m., Marlins Park.
• Scouting report: Peralta, who was called up from Triple A Nashville on Tuesday, will be making his first career start.