Although he was merely the “player to be named later” in the Matt Garza trade last year, pitcher Neil Ramirez is very much a legit pitching prospect (held back in the original trade only so the Cubs could observe him a little longer). He is not, however, going to break camp with the big team this year, as he was today sent to the minor league side.
Ramirez, 24, didn’t give up an earned run in his five innings of Spring work, and looked pretty good the two times I saw him. He’s a big, strong guy with the stuff to be a starter long-term if he can command it consistently. The Cubs used him in late-inning, single-inning spots this Spring, but I suspect he’ll slot into Iowa’s rotation to start the year after pitching well at AA last year. He actually saw quite a bit of time at AAA the two years before last year, but hasn’t quite made that transition successfully yet. I don’t see why the Cubs wouldn’t take that step, and start to make a decision about his future vis a vis bullpen/rotation. Some think he could be a dominant late-inning guy if he’s ultimately forced to convert to the pen.
The Cubs’ Spring roster stands at 36.