Red Sox prospects Jose Ramirez, Giancarlos Santana making strides in Dominican Summer League

Earlier this week, Red Sox pitching prospect Jose Ramirez put together yet another quality outing for one of the club’s Dominican Summer League affiliates.

Over five strong innings of work against the DSL Marlins on Monday, Ramirez kept the opposition off the scoreboard while allowing just one hit and no walks to go along with three strikeouts on the afternoon.

Needing just 40 pitches — 31 of which were strikes — to get through those five scoreless frames, the young right-hander wound up facing the minimum 15 batters, as he worked his way around a leadoff single in the fifth inning by inducing a 5-4-3 double play that was followed by an inning-ending groundout.

Later earning the win in what would go down as a 2-1 road victory for the DSL Red Sox, Ramirez improved to 3-0 on the season while lowering his ERA on the year to a miniscule 0.33.

In addition to posting a 0.33 ERA — and 3.52 FIP — through his first seven outings (six starts) of the 2021 campaign down in the Dominican, Ramirez has also recorded 21 strikeouts to just 11 walks while holding opposing hitters to a .194 batting average against over 27 total innings pitched.

The 20-year-old hurler originally signed with the Red Sox out of Santo Domingo in May 2018 and made his professional debut in the Dominican Summer League shortly thereafter.

At that time, Ramirez was listed at 6-foot and 145 pounds, but has since experienced a bit of a growth spurt that may have something to do with the success he has enjoyed this year, as Red Sox executive vice president and assistant general manager Eddie Romero recently explained to BloggingtheRedSox.com.

“Jose has been one of our better starters,” Romero said via email. “He’s 6-foot-2, 170 pounds now and shows three pitches — a fastball that’s 90-95 mph, a sharp, true curveball in the mid-70s, and a late, fading changeup.”

While Ramirez’s 19.6% strikeout rate to this point in the season does not exactly jump off the page, Romero credits the righty’s ability to attack the strike zone as a reason to why he has been so effective after the 2020 minor-league season was cancelled on account of the COVID-19 pandemic.

One day after Ramirez dominated for the Red Sox Red Dominican Summer League affiliate, outfield prospect Giancarlos Santana put together an impressive day at the plate for the Red Sox Blue affiliate on Tuesday.

Matched up against the DSL Rangers while starting in right field and batting out of the seven-hole, Santana led the way by going 3-for-4 with a triple, a home run, a walk, two RBI, two runs scored, and a stolen base in a 7-5 win for the Sox.

Santana’s homer, which came off Rangers starter Eury Rosado to lead things off in the top of the fifth inning, was the first of the 19-year-old’s professional career. It also got the Red Sox on the board and proved to be the catalyst for a five-run inning.

Fast forward to the top half of the 10th, with things knotted up at five runs apiece, and Santana again provided a boost while leading off an inning. This time, while matched up against reliever Elias Leal, the right-handed hitter ripped a triple — his first of the year — to drive in the winning run from second base.

Santana then scored an important insurance run himself on an RBI single off the bat of Diego Viloria, which in turn gave the Red Sox the two-run lead they would need to secure a 7-5 victory over the Rangers.

With his three-hit day in tow, Santana raised his batting line on the season to a solid .280/.438/.440 (156 wRC+) to go along with one triple, one home run, four RBI, six runs scored, seven walks, five strikeouts, and four stolen bases through 15 games and 32 plate appearances in the DSL.

The Red Sox originally signed Santana as a 17-year-old outfielder out of Santo Domingo for $460,000 back in July 2018. At that time, Baseball America’s Ben Badler wrote that Santana “has a clean, fluid swing with an advanced approach and sprays the ball over the field with a good track record of hitting in games. He’s a line-drive hitter with occasional doubles pop and a hit-over-power offensive profile, though he has the physical upside to grow into more sock.”

After settling in and eventually making his Dominican Summer League debut the following June, Santana got his professional career off to a rough start as he struggled to the tune of a .192/.322/.216 (69 wRC+) slash line over 50 games in 2019.

Despite those struggles, Santana was able to use the COVID-19 shutdown last year to his advantage, as he trained with his cousin — former Red Sox prospect and current Rays outfielder Manuel Margot — to get stronger.

“A rangy outfielder,” Romero said when describing Santana, who has experience at all three outfield positions. “He trains with his cousin Manuel Margot in the offseason. Santana struggled in his 2019 season but worked to get stronger during the pandemic and has performed well to date while showing much better plate command.”

Santana, who is listed at 6-foot-1 and likelier heavier than his listed weight of 180 pounds, struck out in 23% of his plate appearances in 2019 while only drawing a walk 13.5% percent of the time.

So far this year, as Romero indicated, Santana has shown better discipline at the plate considering the fact he has lowered his strikeout rate down to 15.6% in the process of raising his walk rate up to 21.9%.

The 2021 Dominican Summer League Season, which will not include a postseason, will run through October 2, so Ramirez and Santana have a little more than five weeks to continue to build on what they have done as of late.

With that being said, both Ramirez — who does not turn 21 until next March — and Santana — who turns 20 in November — can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time in their respective careers next December.

(Picture of Giancarlos Santana: Jesse Sanchez/MLB.com)