35. A.J. Ramos (6.4)
A.J. Ramos is a 5’10” relief pitcher from Lubbock, Texas. The Florida Marlins chose him in the 21st round of the 2009 MLB Amateur Entry Draft.
For the first three seasons of his professional career, Ramos made his way up through the Florida- then Miami Marlins minor league affiliate feeder system. In September, 2012, he got his first look at the major league level with the Marlins, striking out 13 in 9 1/3 innings over 11 games.
Aside from a one-game rehab assignment in 2014, Ramos has not again pitched in the minor leagues. In 2013, he appeared in 68 games for the Marlins, striking out 86 in 80 innings while going 3-4 with a 3.15 ERA.
It was more of the same for Ramos in 2014. Another 68 appearances, along with 73 whiffs in 64 frames. He was 7-0 with a 2.11 ERA, with a 1.234 WHIP and only 5.1 hits surrendered per nine innings of work. Most impressively, Ramos only gave up one home run all season.
Ramos inherited the closer role in 2015 after a wildly inefficient start for Steve Cishek. Cishek saved three games in seven chances through mid-May, and then manager Dan Jennings relieved him with Ramos.
Ramos responded with his signature professional season. He was 2-4 with a 2.30 ERA, along with a career-best 1.009 WHIP in 70 1/3 innings. He also saved his first 32 games and struck out a career-best 87 batters.
Ramos remained the closer in 2016, saving a career-high 40 and striking out 73 in 64 frames. Still, there were warning signs showing that maybe Ramos had lost a little something, even that early on. We only notice now in hindsight, but his WHIP ballooned to 1.359 as he walked 35 for a BB/9 rate of 4.9 – nearly Barraclough-like. Ramos was named to the all-star team that season, the only time he has made it so far. He was 1-4 with a 2.81 ERA.
In 2017, Ramos saved another 20 games for the Marlins, although he closed the Miami part of the season with a 3.99 ERA. At the trade deadline, they sent him to the New York Mets for Merandy Gonzalez and Ricardo Cespedes.