Don Mattingly explains how Harold Ramirez and Garrett Cooper have lifted Marlins offense
A six-pack of Marlins notes on a Wednesday:
▪ With 27 hits in his first 19 games entering Wednesday night, Harold Ramirez is tantalizing the Marlins and their fans, who are eager to find anyone — anyone at all — who can be a long-term starting outfielder.
Even Ramirez, who hit .303 in eight minor-league seasons, admits he’s a little “surprised” by his early success.
Other opposing players have taken notice. Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon complimented Ramirez and told him to “keep swinging.”
And Mets second baseman Robinson Cano had an amusing line when he approached Ramirez.
“I don’t know how every Ramirez hits the ball,” Cano told him.
Ramirez, who was left off the Blue Jays’ 40-man roster, opted for free agency last November and chose the Marlins over the Giants, Yankees and others. He’s hitting .370.
“We’re seeing quality at-bats for the most part,” manager Don Mattingly said of Ramirez before this six-game road trip that continues in Milwaukee this week. “He’s a guy who’s pretty stubborn in the way he hits. No matter what they try to do to him, he stays with what he’s trying to do.
“You don’t see him shifting gears. He’ll struggle at some point. Once that happens, they will make some adjustments how they pitch him. Then we will see how he bounces out of that and where he goes. He plays with high energy, puts the ball in play for the most part. He’s [faced] [Jacob] DeGrom, [Max] Scherzer, [Patrick] Corbin. Some qualify stuff he’s seen and nothing seems to faze him.”
Though Ramirez has been needed in center field at times, he said he’s most comfortable in right field.
▪ Encouraging to see Garrett Cooper start to hit; he’s at .435 (10 for 23) with two homers and five RBI in his last seven games and is now at .289 for the season.
He has a strong advocate in Marlins director of player development Gary Denbo (one of Derek Jeter’s top executives).
“Gary is a good guy to have on your side, but ultimately it’s how I showcase myself,” he said. “It’s finding a rhythm. Baseball is driven on results, and you have to be driving in runs in the outfield. I have done enough at Triple A where I need to showcase myself up here.”
▪ The best scenario would be if Cooper and Ramirez continue to hit well and prove to be quality long-term big-league outfielders, and Lewis Brinson returns and plays well late this summer. Brinson is hitting .294, with five homers and 24 RBI in 30 games at Triple A New Orleans.
Marlins first baseman Neil Walker insists Brinson is “not that far off. Once he settles into his approach, he’ll take off. It just hasn’t come super easy to this point. He’s as talented from a tool standpoint as anyone I’ve played with, and I played with [five-time All Star and 2013 NL MVP] Andrew McCutchen.”
But even if Brinson doesn’t pan out, there’s enough outfield depth in the system — including from this draft — that Miami probably could overcome it.
▪ The Marlins likely would want quality prospects back for Jose Urena if they decide to deal him before the trade deadline. But it wouldn’t be surprising if they decide to take back international signing pool money in a trade involving closer Sergio Romo this summer.
▪ Sirius XM Radio analyst Jim Bowden, the former Nationals GM, said the Marlins had the best draft in baseball... ESPN’s Keith Law on Georgia prep shortstop Nassim Nunez, the Marlins’ second-round pick on Monday: “One of the draft’s best defensive shortstops, Nunez has also begun switch-hitting in the last year so he can gain some extra value from his speed while batting left-handed. He’s only 5-foot-9 and, while strong for his size, projects to just 40 power, so he’ll need to hit and get on base to profile as a regular.”
Law rated Nunez 28th in his top 100 draft-available prospects. The Marlins selected him 45th overall.
▪ The Marlins, through 10 rounds of the draft, had snagged three of the players who rank in the top 43 in RBI in college baseball this season and three of the top 51 in home runs, plus the nation’s stolen base leader (Wright State’s J.D. Orr with 60).
Wright State outfielder Peyton Burdick is 10th in RBI with 72, Vanderbilt outfielder JJ Bleday 14th with 67 and North Carolina State first baseman Evan Edwards 43rd with 60. As for homers, Bleday is first in college baseball this season with 26, Burdick 43rd with 15 and Edwards 51st with 14.
“When you go out and see these hitters, one of the biggest red flags with hitters is when they swing and miss a lot,” director of amateur scouting DJ Svihlik said. “That never seems to get better when they enter professional baseball, and the competition continues to grow. So, I would say this year, and moving forward with this organization in our drafts, we don’t need guys coming in and swinging and missing. So, all of these players are high-contact guys that came in with varying degrees of raw power.”