Manny Ramirez made his return to American baseball this week. The former Indians and Red Sox slugger detoured through Taiwan before signing a minor league deal with the Rangers, who assigned him to Triple-A Round Rock.
No one has ever doubted Ramirez’s talent. Decades-old scouting reports from two different organizations show that his hitting ability has always been evident. They also show evidence of “Manny being Manny” even when he was at George Washington High School in New York City.
White Sox scout Brian Collins first weighed in on Ramirez. Among Collins’ notable remarks:
• “Best hitter I ever scouted”
• “Tends to be lazy”
• “If he stays healthy will hit between 4 to 5 hundred homers in M L”
Then-California Angels scout Jon Niederer was more skeptical of Manny:
• “Don’t see as home run hitter early in career, but is strong enough to have over the fence power when he gets some loft in swing.”
• “Introverted kid, almost sullen looking, but coming where he’s from, no wonder.”
• “Association with Mel Zitter does nothing to simplify the picture.”
The Mel Zitter who Niederer mentions ran a Youth Service league in which Ramirez played. In a New York Daily News article from 2009, Zitter claimed Ramirez had “never given money back to us.”
Ramirez is a presumed lock to be added to the Rangers’ roster for the stretch run. If not for the suspensions for positive drug tests, he’d also seem to be a lock for Cooperstown, which Collins seemed to portend more than 20 years ago. For the record, Manny Ramirez has 555 career major league home runs.