Scouting Yankee Prospect #41: Ramiro Pena

Ramiro Pena is a plus defensive player

The Yankees signed Ramiro Pena out of Mexico. Since that time, Pena has dazzled scouts with his slick fielding and offensive upside. While his defense is his ticket, his offensive upside may be just enough to make him a starter at the big league level. Ranking #41 among the Top 50 Yankees' Prospects, here's a scouting report on Ramiro Pena.

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Vital Statistics:
Name: Ramiro Pena
Position: Shortstop
DOB: July 18, 1985
Height: 5'11"
Weight: 165
Bats: Both
Throws: Right

Signed out of the Mexican professional leagues mostly because of his astounding defensive ability, Ramiro Pena was originally scheduled to debut in the NY-Penn League in 2005, his first season in the United States, as the everyday shortstop for the Staten Island Yankees.

An injury to Hector Made in Tampa opened the door for him to get his first taste of professional baseball with the Yankees.

"Pena is unreal," former teammate, Jeremy King told PinstripesPlus.com last off-season. "He routinely makes plays you don't see very often. If he can hit .260 in the Major Leagues, he's going to be a special player. He has plus, plus range."

"If I'm pitching and I fall behind," King continued, "I'll even slow down on my fastball to try and get the hitter to roll over on the ball and hit it to Pena because there's no doubt in my mind he is going to get to it."

It is obvious that his performance as a first year player in 2005 didn't exactly received rave reviews, but for observers that saw him on a consistent basis, his skills were more than apparent. Few players begin their professional career at such a high level and his low offensive statistics should be taken with a grain of salt.

"It was only my first season and I believe I did pretty well considering that," said Pena. "I didn't do quite as well as I would have hoped for when the season began. But, I am happy that I got to play in Trenton and play at a high level. I definitely never imagined that I would be playing there."

"But, I just have to thank the Yankees for giving me the opportunity to play there. They had confidence in me and I just thank God that it turned out well for me."

While many scouts believe he could not only play in the Major Leagues right now defensively, but at a very high level, Ramiro Pena realizes he'll need to improve his offensive game. He was able to do that in 2006, spending much of his time with High-A Tampa, a more suitable level for a second year player.

In 218 at-bats with the T-Yanks, he hit a solid .280 with 23 RBI. He also spent some time in Double-A Trenton where he had to battle back from knee and ankle injuries suffered in a collision with outfielder Vince Faison.

"I feel very good this year at the plate," said the switch-hitter. "Spring Training was very good for me. I've been working a lot on my batting. I've been focusing more attention in the cage to hit more."

"They told me that 'we need you to take more pitches, get on base more, get more walks'. So my goal now is to take more pitches. Trying to get on base is my focus."

Year

Team

AVG

AB

2B

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

SO

OBP

SLG

2006 Trenton .198 86 2 0 6 6 0 5 19 .247 .221
2006 Tampa .280 218 4 0 23 31 8 16 26 .335 .317
2005 Trenton .250 236 5 0 12 28 4 10 48 .279 .288

2005

Tampa

.247

73

4

1

6

11

1

9

12

.321

.370



Batting and Power. His 2005 statistics did very little to show it and 2006, while better, still did not show it - Ramiro Pena shows quite a bit of promise at the plate. He's a more patient hitter when batting from the left side of the plate and destined to see many more right-handed pitchers, that has the Yankees excited. He is a good two-out hitter, showing good clutch-hitting ability for such a young player. Let's not forget that even most first-round picks never get to the AA level in their first professional season. Pena can hit the gaps and as he fills out his rather small frame, many scouts believe he can develop into a good doubles hitter. He'll never be a double-digit home run hitter, but he projects to be a solid .270 hitter who could hit 25-30 doubles and around five home runs. The ball does not jump off Pena's bat because of lack of pure physical strength, but his wiry build and quick hands speak volumes about what he could do as a big league hitter.

Base Running and Speed. Pena did very little to show his speed on the base paths in 2005, but did make some strides to improve his base stealing skills in 2006. He swiped eight bases while being caught five times. He certainly has enough speed and innate base running ability to annually steal 10-15 bases per season, with the potential for more as he gains experience.

Defense. As previously mentioned, Ramiro Pena is a very special defensive player. He has Gold Glove defensive ability and it is good enough by itself to carry him all the way to the Major Leagues. His range is second to none and he has a solid arm with one of the quicker releases around. He doesn't have one defensive weakness. He just needs to stay consistent and make smart decisions.

Projection. With the defensive ability to play in the big leagues right now, Pena does project to be a valuable hitter in the lineup someday. Many scouts believe his highest ceiling could be an Omar Vizquel type. That is an extremely large projection and the percentage is low that he'll be that type of player. But, that's not to say he can't be a valuable bottom of the order bat with outstanding defensive abilities. A more conservative projects would view him as a Rafael Belliard type who could be a long tenured MLB player. With offensive potential in his game, Pena's defensive ability is too special not to be in the lineup everyday as a starting shortstop.

ETA. 2008. 2006 was an up and down season as he bounced back from injuries and struggles at the plate. The odds are that he opens the 2007 season as the shortstop for Trenton Thunder. If he shows solid improvement, expect to see him in Scranton by season's end. In 2008, he will likely get his taste of the big leagues as a reserve infielder in the Bronx.

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