By TOM BONE
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
The leading batter for the Bluefield Orioles this season, Luis Angel Ramirez, has a good reason for his improvement on last year’s numbers, from .220 last summer to .333 following a 3-for-5 performance on Monday in Princeton.
“I feel more relaxed this year, more comfortable at the plate,” he said Monday afternoon as the team assembled at Bowen Field.
“Last year, I didn’t really do the job like I expected. But this year, I want to do that job. And that is what will take me to the next level,” he said with the help of interpreter Edwin Cintron, a fellow outfielder.
Part of his development is due to his observations during his first year in Bluefield — a familiarity with the Appalachian League and the opposition’s pitchers.
“I’ve seen a lot of different pitchers, with all the teams,” he said.
Another part of that is the maturity of yet another year on the baseball diamonds.
He said he has developed “more focus on the game, more intelligent — and a little bit more stronger.
“I want to, and I will, focus more in the game, to hit .300 — and over.”
Ramirez, now 22, said he began practicing baseball seriously at age 7 in his home country, the Dominican Republic.
“Then at 15 years old, I went into the (pro development) program for three years,” he said. The scouts liked what they saw from the teenager.
He got his life-altering opportunity when he signed with the Orioles organization, one day after his 18th birthday, on April 25, 2006.
Coincidentally, another player named Luis Ramirez was winding up his pro career with Baltimore about the same time.
The Orioles placed their new signee in the Dominican Summer League for two years, before a promotion to the Gulf Coast League. In that Florida-based circuit he recorded a .321 average in 30 games, leading to his assignment to Bluefield a year ago.
His marks last year included seven doubles, four triples, three home runs and 32 runs batted in. But he had more strikeouts (46) than hits (45).
The 6-foot-3 outfielder has pared his strikeouts down to seven in 11 games, while he has 13 hits in 43 at bats. Three of those hits have been triples, more than anyone else in the Appy League at this point in the season.
His smooth, seemingly-effortless stride has helped him dash around the bases as well as to cover ground in the outfield.
And he has hit better on the road this year than at Bowen Field, going 9-for-22 for a .409 average in visiting parks prior to Monday’s contest.
Among the young ballplayers on the Bluefield roster, Ramirez is an approachable presence in a clubhouse that appears to get along well. “We all work together,” he said.
He added, “I think this is a good league, right here in Bluefield. When all the Dominicans are sent in here, they will get more ability (to develop) to go to the next level.”
They may find a countryman with a familiar name in the clubhouse when they get there.
There are seven players with the name Ramirez in American major league baseball. And there are two other athletes with the name of Luis A. Ramirez currently playing pro soccer in Peru and Honduras, according to Internet searches.
— Contact Tom Bone at