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High-A Spot Starter Dominates Omaha, AMBER Alert Out for O-Royals' Offense

For the third straight night, the Express pitching staff held down the Omaha Philip Seymour Hoffmans Royals and kept it in its place. The vaunted Omaha offense featuring the likes of top prospects Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer along with solid offensive prospects of the Johnny Giavotella/David Lough/Clint Robinson ilk has been MIA for the greater part of the series, with the only damage they have really done coming at the expense of the Express starter on Tuesday, Michael Kirkman

Today, Neil Ramirez filled in for the ill Eric Hurley instead of pitching in Frederick, MD for the Myrtle Beach Pelicans in the High-A Carolina League. Despite never having made a start above High-A, he held Omaha to three hits in six innings striking out five, including the side in the sixth. 

Now it is probably important not to understate how good Ramirez was tonight. His fastball was sitting 93 - 96, and he was mixing in a curve between 78 - 82 and a change up that was 84 - 87. He didn't throw the change much but made Omaha look foolish when he did. Showing up as the eighth-ranked prospect on John Sickels's Rangers Top 20 Prospects for 2011 list, there is clearly some potential in Neil Ramirez's right arm. According to Scott Lucas (of The Newberg Report and The Ranger Rundown), the 21-year-old really put it together in Fall Instructs last season and kept it going through the spring. Judging by the fact that the organization saw fit to call a legitimate prospect up from High-A to make a start against the likes of Hosmer and Moustakas two levels higher, he shouldn't be long for Myrtle Beach.

While one can take solace in the fact that the man who shut down the Royals could have a very bright future, it doesn't dull the pain that such a spanking leaves.  

Now what you are all curious about (if you are still reading) is: How did the relevant Storm Chasers* look?

*I'm sorry. That felt disgusting. I will never do it again. 

Eric Hosmer was 1-for-3 with a ground ball single ripped up the middle. He also lined out to third with David Lough on first, who got doubled up. Defensively, he looked very adept once again. He also masterfully turned the double play. Again. The Organization is going to love him. 

Mike Moustakas was also 1-for-3, lining a single to right to kick off the second. He was also erased via a double play. Fortunately Arnold Schwarzenegger left the Dell Diamond in the middle of the second inning, and no more Royals were erased. As for Moustakas, he actually looked pretty capable at first today. Obviously, he is no Scott Rolen circa 2004, but for the past two days (not one ball was hit his way on Monday), he has looked decent but not spectacular at third. Then again, it is entirely possibly that my notion of what passable defense consists of has been forever tainted by watching the likes of Yuniesky Betancourt, Mike Jacobs, and Jose Guillen play in the field.

Paulo Orlando has looked very good in center. While I am not a scout (and did not have a stop watch to time him), he seemed to get up the line fairly fast. I doubt that his speed would grade out above 70 (my guess would be that he is a 60 - 65 speed guy), but he is long, as Jay Bilas would say, and seems deceptively fast. He does not have much in the way of power, although he isn't so lanky that developing a little power couldn't happen.

Jeff Suppan was shockingly not awful. The Dell Diamond is a decidedly different run environment than Isotopes Park, which helped Lucas May put up a .296/.352/.496 triple-slash that outperformed his career minor league slash-line of .261/.322/.435 significantly. This could start to explain the difference in performance from last Friday to Wednesday night. Still there isn't a likely scenario that will play out in which Suppan is anything other than cannon fodder at the Major League level, but would that really make him any different than Kyle Davies? I'm not crazy about him being back in the fold, especially given the fact that he hates Michael J. Fox, but if a handful of Suppan spot starts means that actual pitching prospects like Mike Montgomery and Danny Duffy aren't brought up before it is best for the future of the organization, then there could be worse things in the world than having Jeff Suppan's not quite cold corpse sitting in the dugout for Omaha.

Both Suppan and the loathsome Luis Mendoza gave up solo shots. Soup served one up (See what I did there? I hate myself now.) to Taylor Teagarden, who did his best to damage the roof of the shed in straight-away center. Mendoza let Doug Deeds send one out. Don't worry, I've never heard of Doug Deeds either. He's playing for his third different Triple-A team in as many years. He is also a Buckeye, which makes him an awful person. 

I shall not be in attendance tomorrow unfortunately, so a non-recap recap will not be submitted following what will surely be a 40-run game for the Omaha Sto Royals.