CLEVELAND -- The Indians did not doubt that infielder Jose Ramirez would be able to handle the big league stage, even without having any Triple-A experience under his belt. Much of that faith stemmed from the vote of confidence that came from the player-development team.
The combination of Ramirez's poise and style of play convinced the organization to summon him from Double-A Akron for Cleveland's stretch run.
"He plays like he feels like belongs," said Indians vice president of player development Ross Atkins. "I think that was probably the overwhelming sentiment that gave us the confidence that his performance would be the same in Double-A as it is here in the Major Leagues, or at least very close to the same."
Indians manager Terry Francona joked that the 20-year-old rookie was "all over the place" during his first Major League start on Monday. Ramirez collected a pair of hits, scored one run, was picked off at first base and made a throwing error, along with some solid defensive plays.
In the third inning against Kansas City, Ramirez sprinted from first to third base on a ground ball to Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas. That mad dash forced an extra throw by Kansas City's defense, created an error and led to an unlikely run for the Tribe.
"He also could've been thrown out," Atkins said with a laugh. "But he plays the game with very little fear. Everyone has some level of caution and fear, but he's not afraid to make a mistake."
In 113 games at Akron this season, Ramirez posted a .272/.325/.624 slash line to go along with three home runs, 16 doubles, six triples and 38 RBIs. Along the way, he also collected 38 stolen bases, scored 78 runs and walked (39) nearly as often as he struck out (41). In the field, Ramirez bounced between second base, shortstop and third for the Aeros.
Atkins said Ramirez could have a future as a regular second baseman or shortstop, or as a utility man for the Indians, depending on the club's needs. His future with the club might be undetermined, but there is one thing Atkins knows for sure.
"It's always fun to watch someone who plays with a lot of confidence," he said, "and plays almost as if they're playing in their backyard. It's certainly not something that you teach, but he doesn't view this level to be really significantly better than anywhere else he's ever played."