2012 MLB Draft: Cardinals Select James Ramsey 23rd Overall


Say “hello” to the baseball version of Tim Tebow.  Like Tebow, Ramsey is known for his leadership, strong Christian faith and incredible character and intangibles.  Like Tebow, he was also quite the ballplayer in college.  Also like Tebow, he may end up a better college player than pro player.  That’s not to say that Ramsey can’t develop into a good major league player, because that’s certainly possible.  That said, the Cardinals drafting Ramsey at #23 overall was a bit of an overdraft.  He was the top senior in the draft, which may have had extra value in this year’s draft under the new CBA.  Still, Baseball America had the Florida State outfielder ranked 51st among draft prospects this year.  MLB.com liked Ramsey a bit better, ranking him 41st.  On the other hand, Keith Law over at ESPN wasn’t enamored with Ramsey, not even ranking him in his top 100 draft prospects.

The Stuff

Getting technical, James Ramsey is a 5 tool player.  However, the term “5 tool” generally invokes mental images of a player with immense upside and that is not an accurate characterization of Ramsey. In fact, Ramsey’s value is in his floor; he might have the best shot of becoming a major leaguer as any player in the draft.   Since whether Ramsey will make it or not isn’t much a question, the actual question is how much of an impact he will make once he gets there.  Ramsey does have all 5 tools, but all are average or above-average.  Ramsey’s speed might earn a grade of 60 due his headiness that allows his actual athleticism to play up on the bases.  In the field, Ramsey is currently a centerfielder, but it’s unclear if he can play there long term.  His arm is just average, so left field might be his future destination if he can’t stick up the middle.

Offensively, Ramsey has a great approach at the plate and a solid hit tool.  He has the ability to spray balls to all parts of the diamond and shouldn’t have much trouble getting on base at an acceptable clip, even at the big league level.  His power is a different story.  Right now, it’s average at best, and it doesn’t necessarily profile to get any better.  Ramsey is only 6’0, 190 lbs and doesn’t have exceptional bat speed or raw power, so there isn’t much future potential when it comes to his ability to hit with pop.  That’s the main reason Ramsey doesn’t profile well at a corner and due to his potential defensive deficiencies, he has earned the label “tweener.”

The Stats

2009: 68 AB, .294/.422/.426, 2HR, 13 BB, 18 K, 0 SB, 0 CS
2010: 230 AB, .287/.435/.517, 9 HR, 50 BB, 48 K, 11 SB, 1 CS
2011: 236 AB, .364/.444/.593, 10 HR, 31 BB, 48 K, 11 SB, 3 CS
2012: 199 AB, .382/.515/.673, 12 HR, 53 BB, 37 K, 9 SB, 4 BB

The Future

Ramsey has a really high floor and a fairly low ceiling.  Ultimately, that could be construed as pretty boring; the outcomes for his career don’t vary.  Most of Ramsey’s future, the unknown parts of it, come down to his defensive position and power development.  He’s going to hustle, play hard, hit for a decent average, and get on-base.  He’ll be a good clubhouse guy and all of the other cliches, which is definitely better than being a nuisance, distraction, or “clubhouse cancer.”  What is unsure is if Ramsey will stick at centerfield.  That’s his best option to boost his value.  If he can’t left field is a likely destination unless he shows more with his arm.  If not left or right field, it’s possible the Cardinals try him at second base, where his instincts and solid athleticism would be satisfactory for manning the right side of second base, especially with his potential “weak” arm.  At any of those spots, Ramsey’s ceiling depends on his growth as a power hitter.  If he blossoms beyond expectations and develops above-average power and sticks at centerfielder, he could become a very good player.  That’s unlikely though.  What’s more likely is Ramsey becoming a 4th outfielder, or a super utility player.  If he starts, it will probably be as a below-average defensive centerfielder with a decent bat or an average defensive second baseman.  That’s not particularly exciting, especially for a 23rd overall pick, but it was the Cardinals second pick of the first round and they added upside later in the draft, making Ramsey a palatable choice, especially if he proves his critics – who don’t see him as having much of a ceiling – wrong.

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