Down on the Farm: Manny Ramirez Making Strides with Round Rock Express

Zachary KruegerCorrespondent IIJuly 15, 2013

The Rangers made a surprise move this month when they signed veteran Manny Ramirez to a minor league contract.
The Rangers made a surprise move this month when they signed veteran Manny Ramirez to a minor league contract.Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

For this week's article on a minor league prospect, I decided to take a different route.  How about a 41-year-old prospect who could be getting a call to the majors at any time?  No, he doesn't exactly qualify as a real major league "prospect", having played in 2,302 games at the major league level, amassing 2,574 hits and 555 homers in his career, but Manny Ramirez is making some serious strides with the Round Rock Express.  

Here is a recap of what the veteran has done in his first week in the minors and how he could make a contribution with the Texas Rangers.

To say the least, Ramirez has been very good for the Express in his first eight games.  As the season stands right now, Manny is hitting an even .300 with the Express, while belting three home runs and driving in six runs.  

After being signed by the Rangers following his time in Taiwan with the EDA Rhinos, it was thought that Manny could help fill a void at designated hitter for Texas.  So far, the experiment seems to be going as planned.  

During his time with the Rhinos, Ramirez hit .352 with 64 hits, 13 doubles and eight home runs to go along with 43 RBI.  It may have seemed a bit far-fetched to think that he could come back to the majors and contribute, but while he hasn't reached the majors yet, he looks like he is ready to at any point.  

What is even more impressive with Ramirez's stats this season is that in his first 30 at-bats he has struck out only five times.  Granted, he is playing at the Triple-A level, but he doesn't seem to have lost too much bat speed at the plate, and the power is there.

As it stands right now, Manny is on a three-game hitting streak, going 6-for-14 over that stretch with two homers.  With his production being at a high level right now, Ramirez may just be the spark that the Rangers need at this point in the season.

Texas is heading into the All-Star break coming off a loss in which they were nearly no-hit by the Tigers' Justin Verlander.  Texas has plenty of players who are still playing at a high level, but it has struggled hitting out of the designated hitter spot.

Lance Berkman got off to a hot start for the Rangers early on this season, and looked to be a viable option as the team's designated hitter.  Unfortunately, Berkman has struggled at the plate over the last month-and-a-half, and has also dealt with injury problems.  

Texas has tried filling the void at designated hitter with rookie Jurickson Profar, at times putting him in the lineup as the DH, or placing another position player in the spot, with Profar playing somewhere in the field.  Unfortunately, Profar has struggled for most of the season.  He is hitting just .235 on the year with three homers and 11 RBI, and has yet to steal any bases, which is a bit surprising given his speed.

It's looking more and more like Ramirez could actually have a shot to make an impact for Texas this season.  There hasn't been much speculation at this point as to when Manny could be called up, but he is certainly raising eyebrows after his first eight games.  

I would expect to see Manny called up sometime by the end of July or early August if he continues to go on tears similar to this week.  If he does continue to produce at a high level with the Express, don't count him out as a guy who could make a splash for the Rangers once promoted.