The New Britain Bees‚Äô newest first baseman signing is a towering 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds. But his gravitational presence isn‚Äôt because of his size, it‚Äôs because of his name: Manny Ramirez Jr., the son of former Red Sox great and world champion Manny Ramirez.
The 22-year-old Ramirez Jr. is fresh out of the University of San Francisco, after spending his freshman year at Central Arizona Community College. He went back and forth from first base to designated hitting with the Dons and is coming off a senior season where he hit .267 with three homers and 16 RBI in 42 games.
Even though Ramirez Jr. is starting the season on the inactive list, manager Wally Backman is confident he can produce when Ramirez Jr. gets on the field.
‚ÄúManny‚Äôs a big kid. He‚Äôs got some power and he‚Äôs still pretty young,‚ÄĚ Backman said. ‚ÄúI think he‚Äôs still got to prove himself in this league and he‚Äôs going to be given the opportunity to do that.‚ÄĚ
It‚Äôs hard not to compare Ramirez Jr. to his father. After all, Manny Sr. is one of the most recognized names of his generation, with his play and attitude.
They both have the same style of game, primarily power hitters. But the elder Ramirez found a way to do it consistently, whereas Ramirez Jr. has yet to do so.
But Ramirez Jr. embraces the challenge of following in his father‚Äôs footsteps.
‚ÄúWe always just fool around with each other. And he‚Äôs just as human as I am,‚ÄĚ Ramirez Jr. said. ‚ÄúHe‚Äôs lost his superpowers so I‚Äôm trying to hold the name. I‚Äôve got two younger brothers who are coming. So we‚Äôre trying to build a legacy.‚ÄĚ
When you share a name with one of baseball‚Äôs most feared hitter in his time, that is naturally going to bring a fair amount of pressure and expectations, but Ramirez Jr. follows his father‚Äôs advice in dealing with that.
‚ÄúHe told me, ‚Äėjust be yourself and take the game as it comes to you and don‚Äôt really try to force too much.‚Äô I‚Äôm one of the youngest here so I‚Äôm not going to try to take that to heart,‚ÄĚ Ramirez Jr. said.
Originally from Miami, Fla., Ramirez Jr. admitted the cold weather has been a bit of a culture shock, especially since he had never been to Connecticut before joining the Bees. But he‚Äôs appreciative of his first professional opportunity since graduating.
‚ÄúThis is my first year out of college and I wasn‚Äôt really into the pro market yet,‚ÄĚ Ramirez Jr. said. ‚ÄúSo I haven‚Äôt really looked into many leagues or different situations. Thankfully this is my first opportunity and I‚Äôm really excited about coming here.‚ÄĚ
Ramirez Jr. sees playing for the Bees as a great chance to ‚Äúget my ABs and focus on what I need to work on to get to where I need to be,‚ÄĚ and giving him a chance to play baseball at a professional level. He knows one of the team‚Äôs greatest strengths is the number of players with experience, especially at the Major League level.
‚ÄúYou‚Äôve got Reid Brignac who is that captain-like figure, with like 10 years of experience underneath him. So that‚Äôs great to have in the clubhouse. You got Manny Delcarmen, who‚Äôs got a ring. So there‚Äôs a lot of experience,‚ÄĚ Ramirez Jr. said.
He may be a youngster on a squad full of older, more experienced players, but Ramirez is ready to go, as is the rest of the team.
‚ÄúWe‚Äôre super excited. We‚Äôve been itching and I know a lot of guys are excited to get to affiliated ball. We‚Äôre just trying to win and see where it takes us,‚ÄĚ Ramirez Jr. said.