At the very least, it can be said that the 2004 Rome infielder is no longer in a class by himself.
Current Rome catcher Max Ramirez has a stroke thats just as sweet as Prados and Ramirez carries more punch.
Max knows how to hit, said Rome manager Randy Ingle. When he gets his pitch, he doesnt miss it.
Ramirez, rated by Baseball America as Atlantas No. 20 prospect, has been bothered by a bad shoulder much of the season, but that hasnt kept him from shouldering his share of the load for the Braves offense.
The 21-year-old Venezuelan carried a .327 average into Saturday night, and has six homers, 25 RBIs and a .968 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage).
Hes been a lineup linchpin for the Braves, who have the best record in the South Atlantic League and are sailing toward a Southern Division first-half pennant.
Im working hard and just trying to do my job, said Ramirez, who scores low on the self-promotion scale. Im just trying to help us win.
Ramirez, as well as several of his teammates, has earned consideration for the SALs all-star game on June 20 in Lake County, Ohio.
Max is a very patient hitter, and thats one of the things that makes him so dangerous, said Ingle. He isnt afraid to take a pitch or two, and hes a great two-strike hitter.
Ramirez is drawing comparisons to Prado, who debuted for Atlanta this season and is presently at AAA Richmond. Prado batted .315 for Rome in 2004 to set a team record that still stands today.
For now, at least.
Ramirez, who batted .347 for Danville last year and was named the Appalachian Leagues co-player of the year, seems destined to set a new standard.
After starting the season in a 9-for-35 skid (.257), Ramirez has batted .346 in his past 38 games before Saturday, and has showed no effects of the shoulder injury that limited him to the designated hitter role for about three weeks.
I feel like its a good start for me, said Ramirez. This level (Class A) is much harder than (rookie ball) because the pitchers are more experienced and everything they throw is sharper. But Ive made some adjustments.
Though his offensive numbers are steady, Ramirez is still developing defensively. He didnt start catching full-time until two seasons ago, the year after he signed with the Braves as a 17 year old.
He handles the pitching staff very well, said Ingle, but his defense is a work in progress. In terms of receiving and blocking balls, hes still got some work to do.
As a hitter, Ramirez personifies the phrase plan your work, and work your plan. He studies opposing pitchers with diligence, and has an idea of exactly what he wants to do with each at-bat.
Max, wow, he always hits, said Rome teammate Isaiah Kaaihue. A bad game for him is when he gets just two hits.
Kaaihue was exaggerating, but not much. It has reached the point where a two-hit game from Ramirez is expected, not celebrated.
As of Saturday, Ramirez led the Braves with 16 multi-hit games, including four three-hit games.
He hits almost everything hard, said Ingle, who added that Ramirez was among the best young hitters hed seen in his 19 years of managing in the Braves system.
Ramirezs best quality might be that he rarely gets pull-happy. Though he has the ability to turn on a pitch, hes far more likely to split the gap in right center.
Every at-bat, I try to concentrate on hitting to right and right-center, said Ramirez. Thats what I like to do. Thats the pitch I look for.
Max does a great job of keeping his hands inside the ball, which allows him to drive the ball to all fields, said Rome hitting coach Bobby Moore. The guys got a great swing.
So, move over, Prado. The class is expanding