M's Farm Notebook -- Ramirez Earns Back Confidence
After a summer in the rookie-class Arizona League, Joel Ramirez is delighted to be playing with the Everett AquaSox this year. And Everett Manager Orlando Gomez is happy to have the Dominican second baseman, who has played solid defense and improved his hitting noticeably in his second pro season.
"He's a hard worker. He comes out early. When he goes 0 for 3 or 0 for 4, he's here working on the things he did wrong the night before," Gomez said. "And he has been steady with the bat and steady with his glove."
Ramirez, a key contributor to Everett's recent hot streak, came into the weekend with a .295 batting average, nine doubles, a home run and 20 runs batted in.
He had two of Everett's four hits Wednesday night, when he led off the 10th inning with a line drive to left field and eventually scored the run that gave the AquaSox a 1-0 victory over the Eugene Emeralds.
He was named Northwest League player of the week for July 24-30 after going 10 for 23 (.435) in six games, with three doubles, his first pro home run, nine RBI, six runs scored and two stolen bases.
"Last year he had kind of a long swing," Gomez said. "This year he's working to stay short and compact and using the whole field.
"He's a guy I can trust because I can bunt with him, I can play hit-and-run, I can do a lot of things with him. He can move the bat and do all the little things you look for in a young player, especially one like Ramirez. Because of his size (5 feet 10, 155 pounds) and the position he plays, he has to do all those little things."
Ramirez, who will celebrate his 22nd birthday Aug. 17, was picked by Seattle from Florida's Miami-Dade Wolfson Community College in the 40th round of baseball's 1993 amateur draft.
He began his pro career last season with Bellingham of the Northwest League, but was sent to the Peoria Mariners of the Arizona League after batting only .167 in seven games. With Peoria, he hit .231 with four doubles and nine RBI in 41 games.
"I played pretty good defense in rookie league, but I wasn't really thinking I was good enough, so I lost my confidence," Ramirez said.
"I've been concentrating a little bit more, I've been working a lot harder, and I've been more positive this year," he said. "Everything's going very good with me right now. I hope it will be like that for the rest of the season."
Ramirez said he's pleased to be playing in the Northwest League "because in Arizona you never see fans . . . maybe one or two people. Here you feel a lot better seeing a lot of people, so you really want to make them happy. I just try to work hard and give the best I can do so they'll be happy."
Suzuki finally pitches
Right-hander Mac Suzuki, 20, sidelined by elbow problems since spring training, returned to competition Thursday by pitching one shutout inning - no hits, one hit batter, one strikeout - for the Peoria Mariners of the Arizona League.
"He felt good," said Larry Beinfest, the Mariners' assistant director of player development. "He's been on a very aggressive strengthening program. Hopefully he will be able to get in some innings and get out to Riverside for the last three weeks of the season.
"We still think very highly of him. He shows great stuff. Hopefully he's getting healthy and will stay healthy and will go out and show what he can do, because we know what he can do."
Relaford to play second
Shortstop Desi Relaford, promoted from the Class AA Port City Roosters to the Class AAA Tacoma Rainiers along with right-hander Matt Wagner last week, is expected to be used mostly at second base with Tacoma. Which means Arquimedez Pozo, who has been Tacoma's regular second baseman, will see more action at third.
To make room on the Tacoma roster for Relaford and Wagner, right-hander Matt Apana and utility infielder Doug Saunders were sent to Port City. The move came a couple of days after Saunders was named Pacific Coast League batter of the week for July 24-30, a span in which he batted .500 (12 for 24) with a double, a triple, two homers, eight RBI and six runs scored.
Around the farms
-- Port City catcher Jason Varitek (.232, eight homers, 38 RBI), Seattle's No. 1 draft pick last year, went 8 for 26 with a double, home run and six walks in seven games. He also struck out eight times, giving him 100 whiffs in 80 games.
-- Everett's Tim Trawick (4-1, 3.57 ERA) tossed a 106-pitch, one-hit, 5-1 victory over Eugene last weekend. The Emeralds' only run was unearned. . . Wisconsin's Derek Bieniasz (11-7, 2.91 ERA) shut out Fort Wayne 7-0 with a four-hitter. . . . Port City's Scott Davison (1-0, 0.62 ERA, eight saves) picked up three saves in as many relief appearances.
-- Riverside third baseman Rick Ladjevich went 9 for 20 in six games, raising his average to .318. It was a double-or-nothing week for his Pilot teammate, Randy Jorgensen (.294). The ex-University of Washington first baseman had five hits - all doubles - in 21 at-bats.
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