I won’t lie -I hadn’t heard of Alexei Ramirez until today. He’s a 26 year-old 2007 Cuban League home run king described as "primarily a shortstop and center fielder" by ESPN.
ESPN’s Willie Weinbaum also says that Ramirez will establish residency in the Dominican Republic and then try to become an MLB free agent. He shares an agent with Jose Contreras; there’s a news conference Thursday.
If Ramirez is truly capable, his agent should position him as a shortstop. Sight unseen the guy’s still a contender for the best one available. The competition among free agents would be David Eckstein, Cesar Izturis, Juan Uribe, and Omar Vizquel.
Not so fast though. We’ve seen some position players come over from Cuba in the past, namely Yuniesky Betancourt and Kendry Morales. Betancourt has been OK with the stick, Morales a disappointment. When trying to translate back in ’05, Baseball Prospectus’s Clay Davenport equated Cuban baseball with short-season A ball over here.
We’ll have to wait and see how Ramirez fares in the bigs; his agent thinks he’s MLB-ready. Click here to read a little bit more on Ramirez from Baseball America, including a minor age discrepancy.