Provided he made his flight from Norfolk on Tuesday night — something Orioles manager Buck Showalter wasn't sure of after a marathon 6-4 loss to the Red Sox — right-hander Yefry Ramirez will make his major league debut Wednesday afternoon in a start against Boston.
It completes a quick ascent to the majors for a converted position player from the Dominican Republic who has been in the Orioles organization for barely a year.
"This guy’s pretty athletic," Showalter said. "Hard worker, made some strides. He’s had a history of winning just about everywhere he’s been. He’s been good this year down there — he’s been real good. And then, he’s had some challenges like a lot of young pitchers. A young guy. But I like the fact that winning’s kind of followed him around. He’s learning a lot, if you think about his experience level as a pitcher when he started out as a position player.”
That learning has been under the Orioles’ tutelage since July 31, when they sent a significant chunk of international signing bonus slots to the New York Yankees for him.
Ramirez, 24, has followed an interesting path through his professional career. He signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks as an infielder but was quickly moved to the mound after he played in the Dominican Summer League and made his stateside debut in 2014.
He moved relatively quickly from there, making his full-season debut in 2016 at Low-A Charleston after the Yankees plucked him from Rookie ball in the December 2015 minor league Rule 5 draft. A year later, he was added to the 40-man roster to protect him from the major league Rule 5 draft after he posted a 2.82 ERA between Charleston and High-A Tampa.
Ramirez was 10-3 with a 3.41 ERA at Double-A Trenton when the Orioles made him part of their nonwaiver trade-deadline haul, and he went 5-0 with a 3.66 ERA the rest of the way at Double-A Bowie.
He does that from a quick delivery and a three-quarters arm slot, and features a fastball that's routinely 91-93 mph, though he struggles to command it at times.
Though his mid-80s slider has always rated as a below-average pitch, his best pitch overall is his changeup. Ramirez has used the changeup to get outs while behind in the count, and some evaluators rate it as a plus pitch.
Though that's his carrying pitch, the overall mix and Ramirez's general feel for pitching and competitiveness on the mound have carried him to his first major league start Wednesday. This year at Triple-A, it's proved to be a useful arsenal.
He's allowed three runs or fewer in seven of his past eight starts and nine of 12, with his five three-hit shutout innings Friday at Toledo lowering his ERA to 4.33.
That his debut comes against a Boston lineup that features at least four and sometimes five left-handed hitters will make his changeup a major factor Wednesday.
Ramirez will be the fourth Orioles player to make his debut this year, along with David Hess, Engelb Vielma and Austin Wynns, and be the eighth starting pitcher the club has used.