Out with the old, in with the new. The Cleveland Indians have officially traded Justin Masterson to the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for prospect James Ramsey.
Ramsey comes to the Indians organization as a 24-year-old outfielder and will immediately be sent to Columbus to join the Clippers at the AAA Minor League level. Ramsey joins a relatively extensive list of left-handed hitters that will be relied on in the future of the Indians franchise.
Ramsey was selected by the Minnesota Twins in the 22nd round of the 2011 MLB June Amateur Draft, but then declined to sign and re-entered the draft a year later to be selected 23rd overall by the Cardinals.
The outfielder is a career .266 hitter throughout the minors, but his biggest production has come more recently, as he was hitting .300 with 13 home runs and 36 RBI in 67 games played with the AA Springfield Cardinals. Ramsey also boasts an impressive season OPS of .916, showing his ability on the offensive side. Ramsey does not have blazing speed on the base paths, but he is quick enough to be relied on for about 10 stolen bases per year. As a result of his strong start to the season, Ramsey was selected as the Cardinals’ only representative at the 2014 MLB Futures Game.
Add in a solid fielding record, and Ramsey has the makeup of a potential five-tool player. His ceiling is not nearly as high as other five-tool guys like Trout or McCutchen, but it is tough to find one glaring weakness in Ramsey’s game.
According to MLBPipeline, Ramsey enters the Tribe’s system as the #5 overall prospect, but with his addition, now four of the five top prospects in the organization are outfielders, which brings up rumblings of a potential prospect trade. Ramsey joins Tyler Naquin, Clint Frazier and Bradley Zimmer, the top organizational picks from each of the last three drafts, to form a bit of a logjam in the Indians’ future outfield plans. With the exception of Zimmer, who has only been playing professional baseball for about a month, each of them are having strong seasons in their respective leagues, which makes it hard for the Indians to part ways with any one of them. Unfortunately, a trade might be looming for one of these outfield prospects.
If I had to take a guess, Naquin will probably be the one to be traded, as he looks to have the lowest MLB ceiling out of the group. Naquin would still demand a solid price in return and a trade of him could end up benefitting the Indians in the future.
Whatever his fate turns out to be, Ramsey looks to be a strong return for Masterson, who was experiencing a rough season and will likely sign elsewhere in the offseason. Of course, it is tough to see a guy like Masterson leave, and we all wish him the best of luck, wherever his career may take him.
By Jay Cannon
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