In 2008, his junior year at Texas Tech, Ramos had Tommy John surgery. He returned for his senior year.
In 2009, A.J. signed with Marlins scout Dennis Cardoza after the team chose him in the 21st round of the draft. A few years later (2012), Ramos was asked about the label of being drafted in the 21st round, and the pressure that comes with that.
"Of course when management gives you a lot of money they're going to give you a lot of chances. With me, they didn't invest very much money so I had to go out and perform and again, the pressure of performing, because you don't have any money to fall back on and that's a lot of pressure but again I live for that, that's why I'm a closer, I love that pressure.
"I guess you try to be as consistent as possible and work hard and try and go out every day and give it all you've got. I think once you start to produce and come in to your own I think they realize that the money that was given to you doesn't matter and what matters is how you're performing now. I've been able to perform pretty well and I think it's just kind of up to the coordinators and everybody to go off what you're doing rather than what you signed for," A.J. said.
In 2012, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Ramos as the 20th-best prospect in the Marlins organization. They had hiim at #14 in the spring of 2013.
- September 4, 2012: Ramos made his Major League debut and struck out the side for the Marlins. And A.J. didn't just strike out the side in the ninth innin—he whiffed the heart of Milwaukee’s batting order: Rickie Weeks, Ryan Braun, and Aramis Ramirez. And the moment was nearly marred by a rookie mistake from catcher Rob Brantly.It’s customary in baseball for a player to get the baseball from his first hit or strikeout. After Ramos struck out Weeks looking, Brantly, another rookie, fired the ball to third base for the usual throw-around. Luckily, the same baseball was used to strike out Braun swinging.
“First strikeout, I definitely threw the ball around. I was wondering why everybody was screaming,’’ Brantly said, laughing.
Brantly threw that ball into the dugout for safekeeping. But after Ramos struck out Ramirez swinging, Brantly was so pumped up about the quick inning that he fired the ball the stands behind the Marlins dugout.
“The third strikeout, I ran into the dugout and chucked the ball into the stands. Everybody was screaming “No!” I quickly grabbed a ball out of the ball bag. ‘Kid! Kid! Give me the ball back!” Luckily we got it back,’’ Brantly said, shaking his head.
A.J. says his favorite baseball player is Yankees closer Mariano Rivera. "I've liked him ever since I was five or six years old. I've always liked him and he's been one of my favorite players because he gets the job done almost every time and he's not flashy and doesn't talk a lot he just goes out there and gets the job done.
"He's very humble and that's the kind of player I want to be, someone who doesn't say much just goes out there and does his job and I think that's very big. Especially these days people like to show off. I want to let my work speak for itself," Ramos said.
May 2013: Ramos attempted to eat the Iron Man Challenge Omelette at the Broken Yoke Cafe in San Diego. The omelette consists of 12 eggs, mushrooms, onions, American cheese, chili, home fries, and two bisquits, which must be eaten in and hour. He failed.
Ramos enjoys playing video games, basketball, and golf. And A.J. also has quite a retro music collection.
What do you do when you accidently bump into a rock and roll legend? You casually introduce yourself, of course, and then you ask to take a selfie. At least, that's how A.J. Ramos handled his 10-minute conversation with U2's Bono.
The encounter took place shortly after the 2015 season ended. Ramos was getting away from it all, so he traveled to Barcelona on vacation. Bono and U2 happened to be touring at the same time, and by chance, he was staying on the same floor at the Hotel Arts Barcelona.
"He was by the elevators. I walked up, and he saw me already," Ramos said. "So I was like, 'I've got to introduce myself.' I said, 'Hey, you're Bono, right?' He said, 'Yeah.' I said, 'My name is A.J. Ramos, I live in Miami.'
"I feel I had to drop the baseball card so he would be, 'This guy is not a total creeper.' I said, 'Yeah, I play baseball for Miami.' He said, 'Oh, for the Marlins?' I [said], 'Yeah, yeah, for the Marlins.' I told him I was a pitcher."
The one-in-a-million chance meeting took place only because Ramos' room was being cleaned, and he was standing in the hallway. And then, when the time was right, Ramos dropped the question: "I asked for a photo with him." Naturally, the photo ended up on his Instagram, with the caption "Sunday Bloody Sunday." (Joe Frisaro - MLB.com - Feb. 2016)
Throwing a baseball always came naturally for A.J. What was difficult for him as he was growing up in Lubbock, Texas, was finding someone who could actually catch his tosses without getting hurt. Although not blessed with tremendous size, Ramos always possessed a powerful arm.
His father, Alex, has stories of friends and former teammates playing catch with his son at their own risk."A.J. had talent from an early age," Alex said. "His arm was really just so strong, even when he was little."
Alex played on softball teams, and sometimes his teammates would throw the ball around with a young A.J. "We were out there in softball tournaments, and some of the guys would say, 'Hey, let's play catch,'" Alex said. "I'd tell them, 'Hey, be careful. Make sure to scoot back.' [A.J. would] hit guys right in the head with the softball. He threw so hard.
"Even though he was so small, he just threw extremely hard. All the guys who played with us, they still remember. We talk about that all the time." Father's Day is a time to celebrate dads everywhere. A.J. is thankful for all the support he received from his father.
"He's the main reason I played baseball," A.J. said. "Whether he worked until 6 or 7, whenever he got off work, he was helping me refine my skills. As somebody who never played baseball himself, he studied a lot. He watched baseball all the time. He read books. He watched the Tom Emanski videos. Whatever it was, he pushed me to be a better player."
Through every step of A.J.'s path to the big leagues, Alex was right there. "My earliest memory was when A.J. started to exhibit his arm," Alex recalled. "I was working quite a bit, so I wasn't able to go to some of his games when he was in coach pitch."
A.J. was playing on a T-ball team in an introductory league. No one was keeping score, and Ramos was playing shortstop. "I'm watching him take ground balls," Alex said. "He was doing them exactly like I'd shown him. They hit him a pretty good shot, he backhands one, and then he rolls it to first base. I'm like, 'Hey, boy, throw the ball!' I was a pretty fiery guy back then."
Next ball hit, same thing. This time, a confused A.J. basically one-hopped a throw to first. Again, his father was wondering why his son wasn't throwing the ball with authority. So between innings, he headed to the dugout.
"His coach, she says, 'Are you Mr. Ramos?'" Alex said. "I say, 'Yes, ma'am, I am.' She says, 'We can't let him throw.' I say, 'Why?' She says, 'Come here.' She brought a boy who had a black eye." Another child had a bloody nose. "There is nobody who can catch with him," the coach told Alex. "Every time he throws the ball, people are afraid of him. He's dangerous."
"I was like, 'Then stick him out in the outfield,'" Alex said. A.J. was moved to the outfield. A ball was hit that rolled to the wall. Ramos gathered it from the fence and launched a throw all the way to home plate.
"You're talking little guys, pants are like two feet tall," Alex said. "He throws it [from] the fence, and he throws it all the way home. I'm kind of like, 'Good job! Good job!' Everybody else was like, 'Did you see that?'" (Frisaro - MLB.com - 6/16/16)
Ramos' father and mother, Cynthia, made the trip from Texas to California as part of a vacation, and they were at A.J.'s first Marjor League game.
"They weren't there for my [big league] debut, but for them being there at a special moment was important," Ramos said. "I wanted to be either the starter or the closer. Once they put me in the 'pen, I was like, 'OK, I want to be the closer.' That being one of my main goals, and my father and mother both knowing that, for them being there for my first opportunity was really special. It's still a really cool moment." (Frisaro - MLB.com - 6/16/16)
A.J. had a strong support group when he took the mound on Mother's Day 2017 in the Marlins' 3-1 win over the Braves at Marlins Park. Along with his teammates and the home crowd, Ramos had his parents -- Alex and Cynthia -- and other family members sitting behind home plate. After securing the save, A.J. handed the game ball to his mom, providing the perfect Mother's Day gift.
"I was excited she was here," Ramos said. "I knew she wanted a save for Mother's Day. I didn't have any control of it until it was presented, so it was kind of cool that they were here and I got to give her the ball after the game. It was a special moment."
The Ramos family made the trip from Texas to Miami to see A.J. lock down his first save since April 22 and the Marlins celebrate their first win in a week. (Frisaro - mlb.com - 5/14/17)
June 2009: A.J. signed with Marlins scout Dennis Cardoza after the team chose him in the 21st round, out of Texas Tech University.
January 15, 2016: The Marlins and A.J. avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year contract for $3.4 million.
Jan 13, 2017: Ramos avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year deal worth $6.55 million with the Marlins
- July 28, 2017: The Mets acquired Marlins closer AJ Ramos for prospects Merandy Gonzalez (ranked by MLBPipeline.com as the Mets' No. 9 prospect) and Ricardo Cespedes (No. 22).
|DOB:||9/20/1986||Agent:||Sports One Athlete Mgmt.|
|Birth City:||Lubbock, TX|
|Draft:||Marlins #21 - 2009 - Out of Texas Tech Univ.|
Ramos has 91-96 mph four-seam FASTBALL with natural cut, an 88-94 mph two-seamer that is very tough on lefthanders, and a 90-93 mph CUTTER against lefthanders to keep them off the plate. A.J. also likes to back-door his 79-82 mph SLIDER or throw it in the dirt for a swing-and-miss. He throws an occasional 74-77 mph CURVEBALL. He also mixes in an occasional CHANGEUP with deceptive arm speed.
He has tremendous strength in his legs, which helps him generate that fine velocity on his heater.
2016 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball: 33.5% of the time; Sinker 5.8% of the time; Change 18.3%; Slider 33.1%; Curve 5.6%; and Cutter 3.7% of the time.
2017 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball: 28.6% of the time; Sinker 7.9% of the time; Change 17.4%; Slider 43.1%; Curve 2%; and Cutter less than 1% of the time.
- Alejandro, also known as A.J., throws strike after strike. But he needs some improvement on his command—his ability to place the ball where he wants to within the strike zone.
Ramos is only 5-foot-10, so he doesn't have much in the way of downhill plane. So his pitches can be flat. But he works hard at it. One scout said, "He pitches like he's 6-8, with no fear of anything or anyone."
"I try to stay as tall as possible on the mound—arm angle," A.J. said. "Get as much downward plain as possible. Also deception with my front arm—try to hide the ball a little more—and the velocity."
Ramos is a fan of pitchers like Atlanta's Kris Medlin, who at 5-foot-10 has been dominant.
"Oh definitely," Ramos said. "I'm always cheering for someone who is around my height. It's like me."
- A.J. tends to be too much of a perfectionist. And he tends to get too amped-up out there, on occasion.
- Ramos has a closer's mentality. He comes to the mound like he's still pissed off about being a 21st-round pick. He is fearless out there.
A.J. always wanted to be a starter or late-inning pitcher growing up.
"I always worked on my stuff so I could be that, and I love the pressure of pitching a game where it's all on my shoulders," Ramos said late in the 2013 season. "I'm a guy pitching on adrenaline. It's easier [for my stuff] to come out in those situations."
Marlins manager Mike Redmond used the righty in a variety of spots in 2013, including the 6th, 9th, and even 12th inning. Ramos, who said he is locked in from the 4th inning, has the ability to shut down opponents with his swing-and-miss stuff.
"I like his stuff," Redmond said. "I think he's a guy who's proven he can pitch really in any situation. We've used him in a lot of different roles. We've used him early. We've used him late, multiple innings. Ahead, close games. He's proven that he can pitch, and he's got the demeanor and ability to handle any situation. I would have no problem throwing him in the eighth inning or any situation."
In May 2015, Ramos took over as the Marlins' closer from Steve Cishek. And had 32 saves. And 40 more in 2016.
Also in 2016, A.J. only allowed one home run, to Braves catcher Tyler Flowers.
- Ramos started the 2018 season with a 15-16 career record and a 2.88 ERA, having allowed 248 hits, and 21 home runs in 346 innings.
2008: Ramos tore an elbow ligament during his junior year at Texas Tech and underwent Tommy John surgery. He was back on the mound in nine months, amazingly.
June 27-July 18, 2014: A.J. was on the D.L. with inflammation in his right shoulder.
Aug 8-21, 2016: A.J. was on the DL with a fractured third finger on his right hand.
- May 27-Oct 29, 2018: Ramos was on the DL with right shoulder strain. June 18, 2018: The Mets announced that Ramos will undergo surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder, ending his 2018 season and perhaps his Mets career.