PHOENIX — Henry Ramos has taken the even longer and windier road to Major League Baseball.
The 29-year-old Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder, drafted by the Boston Red Sox out of Maunabo, Puerto Rico in the fifth round of the 2010 MLB draft, spent 11 years in the minor leagues with four organizations. He played for teams in small towns such as Greenville, S.C., Salem, Va. and Lowell, Mass., far cries from the bright lights of MLB.
After grinding away for years in Double-A and Triple-A, Ramos was called up to the show Sunday from the D-backs’ Triple-A affiliate in Reno, Nev. where he was hitting .371 with a 1.021 OPS.
“[Reno Aces manager Chris Cron] got the group together with them knowing it’s been 11 years,” Ramos said through a translator. “Then we all celebrated.”
Ramos made his MLB debut Sunday against the Mariners as a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning and quickly laced a single into right field for his first MLB hit.
“Very happy for what I’ve been able to accomplish,” Ramos said. “After 11 years, very happy.”
D-backs manager Torey Lovullo described Ramos’ hit Sunday as a bright spot for the team, currently residing in last place in the National League West with the second-worst record in MLB.
“It was a good moment,” Lovullo said. “We’re always looking for good moments right now.”
Ramos credited his long-awaited big-league debut to his faith in God, his work ethic and changing how he hit.
“When I was younger, I used to be a free swinger,” Ramos said. “Now it’s being more selective, being able to target certain pitches.”
Ramos said his favorite part of being in MLB so far has been being able to play in the top baseball league in the world and playing with teammates such as D-backs Gold Glove outfielder David Peralta.
Lovullo was asked if he would consider starting Ramos in some games down the stretch. He was adamant Ramos is not in the big leagues to just be a pinch-hitter.
“In the past, I could sit here and tell you who’s going to be playing probably today, tomorrow and the next day and the day after that,” Lovullo said. “But I’m just making my lineup out the day before, just deciding on what I want to see. It’s a little bit different version of what I’m comfortable doing. But I think it’s the best way and the cleanest way for me to see what’s going on and see who I want to look at the following day.
“In this particular case, yeah, Henry’s not here to just be a pinch-hitter off the bench. He’s going to get some opportunities. He’s going to get a couple starts here and there.”
Lovullo said the September opportunity gives Ramos the chance to show the D-backs what he can bring to the table going forward. However, he said a decision on Ramos’ future with the team is up to upper management.
With the appearance Sunday, Ramos will permanently be in MLB’s record books. He will forever be known as Henry Ramos, Major League baseball player. This fact left him relatively speechless.
“Very joyful, very happy,” Ramos said. “There’s no words that can describe what’s happened to me.”