Boston Red Sox rookie right-hander Noe Ramirez made his major league debut last night against the Houston Astros. It didn't go too well: one inning, three hits, a hit batsman, and four runs (two earned) allowed. He did fan a hitter. He was promptly optioned back to Triple-A Pawtucket this morning.
Will we see him again? Sure. Although he's not a top prospect, Ramirez has a skill set that should get him multiple chances in major league pens.
He was a high-profile pitcher in college, starting for three seasons at Cal State Fullerton and performing quite well with a 2.61 ERA over 300 innings, 310/61 K/BB with just 234 hits allowed from 2009 to 2011. His first two seasons were against hitters armed with the more potent metal bats so the numbers really stood out. Despite mediocre velocity (more on that in a second) he was drafted in the fourth round in 2011 due to his performance record.
After a so-so season as a starter in Low-A in 2012 the Sox moved him to relief and he's performed quite well, featuring a 2.34 ERA with an 87/24 K/BB in 96 Double-A innings and a 2.42 ERA with a 23/11 K/BB and 20 hits allowed in 26 innings in Triple-A. He closed in Double-A and was effective in that job but worked middle relief at Pawtucket, his projected role in the majors.
Ramirez doesn't have the blazing fastball normally associated with relievers: his fastball tops out at 92 on his best days and averages 89-90. The pitch has some arm-side run and can play up due to the contrast with a very good change-up. His breaking ball is inconsistent, ranging from solid at times to below average at others. PITCHf/x splits it between a slider and curve depending on the specific pitch in question though scouting reports describe it as a slider. Overall his stuff grades out as average.
What sets Ramirez apart, potentially, is sharp command and superior makeup. A guy who can throw strikes and keep hitters off-balance (and the first game aside, Ramirez can do those things) can have a long career and make some money as a middle reliever.
Overall he is a Grade C prospect but there's nothing wrong with that. Sometimes a guy who seems fungible like Ramirez can add a new pitch or sharpen his command from good to outstanding and greatly exceed expectations. It might not be right away but I think Ramirez could be a guy like that.