José Ramírez (born September 17, 1992) is a Dominican professional baseball utility player for the Cleveland Indians of Major League Baseball (MLB). Ramírez signed with the Indians in 2009. He was called up to the majors for the first time on September 1, 2013. He has since become a dependable utility player, starting at third base or left field during the majority of the Indians' 2016 games.
Born in Baní, the capital town of Peravia Province, Dominican Republic, Ramírez was surrounded by talented baseball players. Many established MLB stars grew up around him, including such noted All-Stars as José Bautista, Miguel Tejada, and Erick Aybar. Two-time World Series Champion Juan Uribe also hails from Baní.
Ramírez played in the Dominican Prospect League prior to signing with the Cleveland Indians in 2009. The league seeks to prepare amateur talent from the Dominican Republic for life as professional baseball players. It focuses on developing the personal, professional, and baseball savvy of these young players.
When Ramírez signed as an amateur free agent in 2009, he became one of the very first Dominican Prospect League alumni to sign a contract with an MLB team.
Ramírez made his MLB debut on September 1, 2013, after being called up earlier that day. He came in to the game as a pinch runner during the ninth inning and scored on a game-winning grand slam by Mike Aviles.
Ramírez recorded his first Major League hit on September 9 against the Kansas City Royals, when he lined a single to left field off of Royals starter Ervin Santana during the third inning. September 9 was also his first multi-hit game, as he singled during the seventh inning off of Royals reliever Wade Davis.
Ramírez was on the Indians roster during their September stretch run in which the team closed the Wild Card gap; the team eventually overtook both the Texas Rangers and the Tampa Bay Rays for the first Wild Card spot. This became their first playoff berth since 2007.
Ramírez began the 2014 season in the minor leagues and had great success in his limited time, with a batting line of .319/.363/.484 in 105 plate appearances. He was quickly called up on May 1, as Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis was headed to the disabled list. Ramírez played well but was sent back to the minors on May 20, after Kipnis was reinstated from the disabled list. However, Ramírez did not stay in the minors again for long; he was recalled before July 23 to help spell the Indians' waning offense.
Ramírez began to get regular playing time at shortstop on July 31, after the Indians traded shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera. He made the most of his opportunity and had a huge night on August 9. On that day, Ramírez hit his first home run. It came in the second inning, against Yankees starter Brandon McCarthy. In the audience were five of Ramírez's family members, including his parents. His good day did not end with the home run; he later singled in the fifth and seventh innings while putting together his first career three-hit game. When asked about the home run, Ramírez said that he was just "praying to God that it would get over the wall". The ball cleared the wall by only a few feet.
Ramírez finished the 2014 season by hitting a solid .262 in 237 at-bats. He compiled 62 hits and also had 10 steals, good for a tie for fourth most on the team.
For the first time, Ramírez began 2015 in the Majors. He also had his first Opening Day start on April 6, batting ninth and playing shortstop. He would also start the Indians home opener on April 10. Ramírez went 1-4 in the team's first game at newly renovated Progressive Field.
Ramírez, and the Indians, struggled during the first half of the 2015 season. The team fell to last place in the AL Central during June, and Ramírez would be sent down to AAA Columbus during that span. After being called back up for the second time on August 3, Ramírez would play much better, hitting .250 over the second half of the season. He closed out the 2015 season strong by hitting .280 in September/October with 21 hits. He also had a power surge in September, mashing four home runs while setting his career high for home runs in a single month.
2016 has been Ramírez's breakout season, as he has hit to the tune of a .312/.355/.423 line as of July 8, 2016. He also has 21 doubles, which leads the team. Ramírez has become the first player during 2016 to hit in every spot in the lineup, when he batted fourth on June 28. Ramírez has also played four positions this year: second base, third base, shortstop, and left field. He has truly become the Indians' super utility player. When asked about Ramírez's play, Indians hitting coach Ty Van Burkleo noted that Ramírez "has done a great job all year." He also concluded that with the Indians missing Michael Brantley, Ramírez has really stepped up in the heart of their batting order and "been a real shot in the arm" for the organization.
As of July 14, Ramírez was third in the American League with a .377 batting average with runners in scoring position. He backed that up on June 19, when he hit a walk-off single in the 10th inning against the Chicago White Sox, which gave the Indians a 3-2 win. That win was the third of 14 straight wins for the Indians, which is now a franchise record. Their 14 straight wins from June 17 to July 1 is not only a franchise record but also the longest win streak in baseball since 2013. During the streak, Ramírez batted .298 while compiling 17 hits and 9 RBI. On September 17, his 24th birthday, Ramírez hit a walk-off single in the bottom of the 10th inning to give the Indians a 1-0 victory over the Detroit Tigers. In the fifth game of the 2016 World Series, Ramirez hit a home run, giving Cleveland a 1-0 lead against the Chicago Cubs.