neil ramirezOn Friday, the Chicago Cubs and Texas Rangers completed their July swap of Matt Garza (to Rangers) and Mike Olt, Justin Grimm, and C.J. Edwards (to Cubs). The completion required the identification of the PTBNL going to the Cubs, and the subsequent waiver claim by the Cubs of that player, Neil Ramirez.

(The deal had to be processed on waivers because Ramirez was on the 40-man roster, and, as you know, players on the 40-man roster cannot be traded in August until they clear waivers. In situations like this, in case you’re wondering, teams don’t “block” a player like Ramirez from going to the Cubs, even if they might like to have him. By submitting a claim, all other teams would accomplish is pissing off the Cubs and Rangers, as the Rangers would simply pull Ramirez back, and the deal would be completed later.)

Better than your typical PTBNL, Ramirez is a legitimate pitching prospect who was afforded PTBNL status not because the Cubs didn’t want him, specifically, but because there was uncertainty about the condition of his arm. The Cubs must have been satisfied in the month after the trade, because they forewent two lower level prospects in favor of the 24-year-old Ramirez. He hasn’t thrown more than four innings in a start since July 5, and he’s made just four appearances over that stretch, however.

A supplemental first rounder back in 2007, Ramirez’s minor league career is the portrait of a consistently good, if not overwhelmingly great, pitching prospect. He strikes a lot of guys out, and doesn’t walk too many. He struggled mightily in his first go-around at AAA last year before rebounding this year at AA, posting a 3.84 ERA and 11.1 K/9 over 103 innings. In that stretch at AAA (7.66 ERA over 74 innings), he was torched by the long ball – probably to an unsustainable extreme – so there are reasons not to be too concerned by it. With Ramirez, the greater concern has been health, as he’s been hit by intermittent – and apparently minor – shoulder issues, including one that informs the time he’s missed over the last month and a half. Anything with the shoulder gets you nervous, especially when it pops up more than once. That said, Ramirez has never missed significant time.

After a breakout 2011 season, Ramirez showed up in Rangers top ten prospect lists around the rankings world. His nosedive at AAA last year sullied those rankings, but he remained a top 30 Rangers prospect to pretty much everyone. John Sickels had Ramirez at 18 coming into the season (one spot behind C.J. Edwards), and Rangers blog Lone Star Ball had him at 11th, the second best remaining pitching prospect in their system (it was a crowd-sourcing effort, which is great for some reasons, and poor for others – they had Rougned Odor at 8, though he’s considered by many to be a top 100 overall type). The point here is that, despite the struggles in 2012, Ramirez remained a legitimate pitching prospect in the Rangers’ system.

Where does Ramirez land in the Cubs’ system? He’s probably not a top 20 guy, but he could slide into the 21 to 25 range, I’d think (which is far from an insult, given the system). It’s hard to say without deeply digging into where other guys have moved over the course of the season. A top 10 pitching prospect in the system, though? Yes, I think you could say that confidently.

The guess here is that Ramirez starts out 2014 at AAA with a chance to prove himself there, and put himself on the radar as a future rotation member or possible 6th/7th/8th starter type in the second half of 2014. Alternatively, he could move to the bullpen eventually, where his stuff would probably play even better, and his path to the bigs might be a little more clear.

  • Kyle

    Another guy who would look great in our pitching depth chart next season either as a reliever of a depth starter. (I prefer him as a reliever, but ymmv).

    The job they’ve done turning around our organizational pitching depth in 2013 is probably my favorite thing the front office has done to date.

    • Featherstone

      They really have put a lot of work into the pitching side of the organization. The draft and the trade deadline all have been very pitching focused (Kris Bryant pick aside).

      The whole philosophy of having waves of minor league talent is really taking shape for us and were all genuinely excited to see some of that ideology come to fruition.

  • The Dude Abides

    Question on Ramirez, since the Cubs picked him up off of waivers does that mean that if the Cubs didn’t take him someone else below them could/would have? If so, could a case be made that the Rangers forced our hand to take him now or else take the 2 PTBNL that the original deal was supposed to offer? Possibly before the evaluation was complete or we were ready to put him on the 40 man roster?

    • Kyle

      Since he was tied to us as a PTBNL of our choosing, I’d *guess* that Texas would be forced to pull him back if anyone else won the claim.

    • hansman1982

      “If so, could a case be made that the Rangers forced our hand to take him now”

      Odds are, Texas wouldn’t have done this and severely pissed the Cubs off. Considering that Texas made good on the Geo trade conditions last year, they wouldn’t pull a 180 and suddenly be giant dicks to the Cubs this year.

    • Brett

      It’s addressed in the parenthetical. If Texas was trying to force Cubs’ hand, Ramirez would have just cleared waivers, and there would be no change in status.

  • http://bleachernation grip

    Yes… a lot of guys for the pitching depth chart hold promise … but, I hope we can see some hitting in next years’ lineup… where are we in terms of being shut out or limited to 1 or 2 runs this season?

  • The Dude Abides
    • Kyle

      Pretty sure we’re breaking even each year right now.

    • Scotti

      At least $100 million shy of where they’d bank if they were fielding a competitive team. Losing costs money for a large market team.

      • DarthHater

        Yes, it’s odd how many people don’t seem to grasp that concept.

      • Hebner the Gravedigger

        Yup, Houston is certainly a tiny little town.

        • Kyle

          Houston’s strategy is idiotic, too.

          It’s the same sort of min-maxing silliness that caused them to pass on Buxton.

      • Some Guy

        Right you are, Scotti boy!

    • Stu

      If fans are continuing to shell out premium prices for a bad product, why would ownership stop?

    • Jon

      That Houston case is a bit of an anomaly…

  • Ed

    Another fine article Brett, thanks.

  • justin

    Tony Campana hitting .320 as lead off for Diamondbacks. 2 for 5 last night with a triple and scored. In that marathon game with Philly he walked 5 times. But highlight of week was his scoring from first base on a routine double. Since wife loves him we go to valley to see him and he is a huge crowd favorite as in Wrigley. He is what he is but sometimes worth watching.

    • bbmoney

      He has been terrific so far in his 31 plate appearances.

      • MichiganGoat

        Campy- The Scrap that never dies

    • Corey

      Holy crap, video of him scoring from first?

      • Jon
        • Scotti

          Lord, you are a troll, aren’t you?

          • Jon

            Dynamite drop-in, Scotti. That message board posting school has really paid off.

            • Scotti

              And you answer in the affirmative. Nice. Last time I checked wasting folks’ time when a poster asks a legitimate question with a lame T-Ball RickRoll just isn’t funny. This site loses value when you post crap like that. It just isn’t funny.

              • Jon

                Do you have the actual video?

                • Scotti

                  That doesn’t matter. I didn’t waste anyone’s time. You did. You added zero value to the board. You TOOK value from the board. If the board had more posters doing what you did then the board would have zero value. The board is actually another human beings’ livelihood. Not cool.

                  • TWC

                    “If the board had more posters doing what you did then the board would have zero value.”

                    Yeah. Speaking that, tell us how you feel about Matt Szczur again.

                  • Jon

                    I actual tried to find the video and couldn’t so I thought I’d interject with an attempt at humor. No different from all the dumbass meme’s posted 24/7. What have you added other than ranting and raving about it like a toddler? Nothing.

                    • mick

                      Campana scores from first on a routine double and you make fun with a little league video. Scottie is on you like a Louisiana badger. Run Jon as if your car just broke down on E. 67th st on a Friday night.

                    • Jon

                      ” Scottie is on you like a Louisiana badger”

                      Sounds kinky, Micky.

                    • Soda Popinski

                      I thought it was hilarious. It caught me completely by surprise and had a nice little belly laugh.

                  • Scotti

                    “No different from all the dumbass meme’s posted 24/7.”

                    The “dumbass meme’s” around here tend to be pictures NOT RickRolls. One can simply s c r o l l by them. Very different than a link that PROMISES to be something it isn’t. This isn’t rocket science. You wasted folks’ time with a RickRoll. That lowers the value of the board, period.

                    “What have you added other than ranting and raving about it like a toddler? Nothing.”

                    What have I added? Much the same as the vast majority of the community here, I add my opinion re. baseball/Cub related subjects. I also, upon rare occasion, will call out folks for doing dumbass things like RickRolling on this site given the fact that I visit/comment/post here very frequently during a given day AND this is a dude’s freaking livelihood.

                  • Scotti

                    “Yeah. Speaking that, tell us how you feel about Matt Szczur again.”

                    Something that adds value to the site. Members doing some research and adding their well-formed opinions. Of course, snarking on someone’s well-thought out, researched comments adds no long-term value to the site whatsoever. Sure, it’s more hits but it really does drive away other potential hits.

              • DarthHater

                The site gained value because I learned what “rickroll” means. 😉

                • Scotti

                  The More You Know…

    • mak

      Check out the stats on 18 year old kid they got in return, who is already in the states:–000eri

      BTW, he is considered the “lesser piece” in the deal. Chew on that.

      • cub2014

        lesser piece?

  • Jon

    An 8th starter is going to come in handy when the NL adopts eight man rotations.

    • Cubbie Blues

      Also, when other pitchers go down due to injury.

    • MichiganGoat

      Yeah right because every team only needs to be 5 starters deep.

  • Bilbo161

    Sure would like to know who the other choices were from the Rangers. Probably not much chance of that now. Keep stockpiling arms Cubbies!

    • Jon

      On PSD it was reported

      -Neil Ramirez (duh)
      -Two from the list of:
      Roman Mendez
      Alec Asher
      Keone Kela
      Kevin Matthews
      Victor Payano
      Collin Wiles

      • Cub Fan Dan

        I would have taken Kevin Matthews & Jim Shorts… Sorry, I had to throw in the 80s-90s WLUP radio reference.

      • Dan

        If that list is correct, I am shocked that they did not take an arm like Payano and another player – Ramirez isn’t going to be a “rotation guy”. It tells me that PSD’s list is just some guy putting together a bunch of names from a baseball list of Ranger prospects.

  • Senor Cub

    “himself on the radar as a future rotation member or possible 6th/7th/8th starter type in the second half of 2014”

    that’s just One Der Ful!

    • Jon

      It’s good to know we’ve got options, should 3/5’s of our starting rotation go down, and our World Series run won’t be derailed.


    The cubs have the best 3-10 starters in the league. Now only if they can find a 1 and a 2 their pitching staff would be set. 3-4-5 hitters would be nice too.

  • cubsfanforever

    Some of you really must hate life.

  • Theo?

    We must have the worst 3 year trade run, in terms of coming on the bad side of deals, of any team in the past 20 years – from botched trades, to bad trades, to no return trades, to “that trade had no meaning except to incur more losses” trades.

    • TheDondino

      I agree. That Orioles deal this year has horrible written all over it. A former 1st round SP who is still young and looks like our #5 guy or better next year along with potentially our new closer…for a 3 month rental of Scott Feldman! Morans I tell you, we have Morans leading this organization.

      • Danny Ballgame

        Morans indeed

    • waittilthisyear

      dude we already have like 2 resident trolls. your schtick has already gotten old.

      • waittilthisyear

        thats for theo?

      • Theo?

        There must be a term for a counter-troll – people who sit all day regurgitating things that they’re told to say without thinking about it and trying to force out voices of dissent. That’s you.

        • mjhurdle

          If you admit that he is a counter-troll, isn’t that also an admission that you are a troll, and therefore validate his statement that your services are not needed here because we already have multiple resident trolls?

          • Chef Brian

            I know it’s difficult but we need to go back to our “Don’t Feed The Trolls” policy.

        • waittilthisyear

          fella i rarely post and when i do it is usually about something specific that i have not seen mentioned here. you suck

    • YourResidentJag

      Theo’s best aspect of his philosophy isn’t trades, unfortunately. It’s the drafting and development. If that sounds kinda one note, it can be. Depending on how you look at it, then, you either love what the Cubs are doing or feel dispassionate in a kind of wait-and-see approach.

    • Cizzle

      You could argue that acquiring Hendricks, Villanueva, Arrieta, Strop, Pineyro, Olt, Edwards, Ramirez, Black, Vizcaino, etc. for a year and a half of Maholm/Soriano and 3 months of Feldman/Dempster/Garza over the course of 13 months was a terrible 3 year trade run, but I wouldn’t.

    • baldtaxguy

      I don’t know how you can make this statement without expecting a challenge, since you have nothing factual to offer as support, nothwithstanding your reputation to do just that. And I’m not sure how you can measure recent deals such those for Garza, Feldman, Hairston, until the prospects mature to the majors, or not. All three deals look wonderful on paper, but at this point its cautious (or not so cautious) optimism. And I cannot call any of these three deals as “botched,” “bad”, “no return” or a “trade had no meaning except to incur more losses.” How can you….credibly….do so?

      (I know you won’t respond to this, but apparently you are now taking issue in some part with the responses you are getting, so just keep in mind that voices of dissent can be credible too and your post here does not demonstrate any effort.)

      • baldtaxguy

        As a follow-up note, I personally would measure the Feldman deal by the end of next year, knowing that both Strop and Arietta are now at the ML level. Different analysis than the other two deals.

        • cub2014

          If Arrieta make rotation next year and Rusin goes to AAA
          AAA starters: Rusin,Ramirez,Cabrera,Grimm,Hendricks
          AA starters: Johnson,Edwards,Pinyero,Black,Jokisch
          that leaves Loux,Raley,Negrin,Struck,Rhee,Wells&Loosen
          Where do these starters go? I have never seen the Cubs
          minors starting pitching so loaded. They are going to have
          to move some of these starters or convert some to relievers.

          • ssckelley

            I would not be surprised if the Cubs lose one or 2 of these pitchers to the rule 5 draft. Also a couple may get a shot at the MLB team in the bullpen. I expect Rusin to make the team next year, he almost made it out of ST this year and the rotation could use a lefty.

            Clock is ticking on Raley, he will be given a shot at making the team out of the bullpen next year.

            • cub2014

              I think we will see Rosscup come up in September he is a rule 5 guy. He has been lights out in bullpen this year and will probably be our second lefty. So I think some of these other guys have to be traded.

              • cub2014

                Our bullpen could be a strength next year.
                Rosscup. Then? Lim,Rivero,Coleman,
                Bowden,Batista,Sanchez,Dolis Schitter
                Rodriguez and Rondon have looked better.
                Injured guys: Fujikawa,Vizcaino,Baker

  • rocktowndude

    Does any one know what kind of pitches Ramirez has? Hows his fast ball? Whats his best pitch? thanks guys.

    • mdavis

      not entirely sure what he throws, but i believe i’ve heard hes in the mid 90s with the fb. sits anywhere from 90-95.

  • Aaron

    Cubs are in line to pick third in next year’s MLB draft and more than likely will finish in the top 5 after this season is over. It looks like the Cubs will be competitive in 2015, the same year that Wrigley Field hits 100 years old. The renovated stadium and team will be quite the pieces to heavily market. We just need to get through this season…and next. But there is a plan in place. The darkest hour is just before the dawn. Here’s to 2015 and beyond!

  • Kyle

    The Angels contrast really nicely with the dynasties that the Royals and Nationals are enjoying after putting together the undisputed No. 1 farm system in the league at different points in the recent-ish past.

  • Jason P

    I think at this point it’s fair to divide the Cubs farm system into 2 upper tiers and a huge third tier that contains about 20-30 C- to C+ prospects.

    Tier 1 (no particular order) — Almora, Soler, Baez, Bryant

    Tier 2 — Vizcaino, Olt, Alcantara, Johnson, Edwards, Vogelbach

    Tier 3 — Dunston, Hannemann, Maples, Paniagua, Blackburn, Balaguert, Amaya, Contreras, Shoulders, Hernandez, Bruno, Geiger, Andreoli, Black, Loosen, Rivero, Zych, Jokisch, Jackson, Villanueva, Silva, Rosscup, Grimm, Cabrera, Ha, Vitters, Ramirez.

    Tier 3 is arguable and could be slightly bigger if you want to include more of this year’s pitching draft class or smaller if you want to take out guys like Balaguert or Jokisch, but overall, you’ve got to be impressed by the impressive collection of potential MLB players in the Cubs system.

    • cubsin

      You obviously missed Candelario (Tier 2) and Underwood (Tier 3). I’d also add Daury Torrez, Carlos Penalver and several of the pitchers drafted early in 2012 and 2013 to Tier 3.

      • cubsin

        And we both missed Hendrickson (Tier 3).

      • Jason P

        Until Candelario starts putting up numbers in Low-A it would be a stretch to rank him in the same class as guys who are currently raking at at least High-A. Candelario’s the top guy in tier 3, but for me, there’s a clear gap between him the guys in tier 2.

        Tier 3 could vary pretty significantly depending on whom you ask (like I said above, a few pitchers from the 2013 draft class could definitely be on there, same with Underwood). Ranking power arms and raw hitters at the lower levels is just so ridiculously subjective there’s probably another 30 guys you could make a reasonable case are in that third tier.

        My main point is that there’s a clear group of 4 “elite” prospects in the Cubs system, 6 “near elites”, and then an absolute glut of decent, C-level prospects.

    • baldtaxguy

      Pineyro s/b in the tiers.

      • Jason P

        I agree. Missed him.

    • wilbur

      Nice sorting, interesting how few of tier one and two are in triple A, just olt right? I point this out because it is still hard for me to believe that the cubs farm system is rated as highly as it is (top 3) with only so few top prospects in AAA ball. Not to mention major league ready guys in AAA in general. So either the ratings people are way off or there are very big things coming from the farm system in the not too distant future.. It is still hard to believe. Right now the moves on off and around the 40 man roster are where the action is, but watch when more top prospects are in triple aaa and what moves start happening betwen the 40 and the 25 roster, then it’ll start to look like we’re getting somewhere with all this rebuilding.

  • nkniacc13

    Gee it could be interesting to see the starting pitching staffs that start at Iowa and Tenn next year. There could be 3 former Ranger farm hands in Iowa’s rotation and then looking at what Daytona’s rotation looks like and who could be ready to move up to start next year has gotta start to make cubs fans happy that there are atleast better than decent arms on the way

  • JeffR

    It appears suddenly that we will have a little pitching depth at upper levels. I wouldn’t say a lot of high ceiling guys though, and a few will likely flame out. I’m wondering if one or two of these guys could get traded in the offseason.