Friday, June 17, 2016

Getting to Know Astros/JetHawks OF Ramon Laureano

Lancaster OF Ramon Laureano is a fun player to watch. He can (and will frequently) steal a base. He has a little pop in his bat, with more developing. And he has very good range and a great, accurate arm as he plays all three outfield positions with reckless abandon. Laureano is the prototypical run-through-the-wall guy.

Ramon Laureano - June 2016
Photo by Jayne Hansen

If he doesn't always run through the wall literally, he did hit the wall (or more specifically, fence) not long ago in High Desert. According to Lancaster Hitting Coach Darryl Robinson, Laureano ran into the fence chasing down a foul ball. The conversation afterwards went something like this ...
Robinson: Ramon, you didn't see the fence? What's going on?
Laureano: It got up on me quick.
Robinson went on to say that Laureano will give you 110% in every single game. Lancaster Manager Ramon Vazquez added, "His defense out there ... he's outstanding. He scares me at times, diving all over the place. And you can't stop him from playing hard so you just hope that he can stay healthy."

The biggest challenge for Laureano in 2015 was plate discipline and that's also the area in which he's made the greatest strides in 2016. Robinson expounded on the process, "I know he had some problems with the strike zone, but it's a conversation. It starts in the cage when we're doing early work ... pitch recognition drills and also just swinging at good pitches. I throw some off. I throw some on to get him to really offer at good pitches starting in the cage and then take it to BP and I think it carries over to the game. All it is is just getting the reps of doing it. It's seeing the pitches that you can't hit and not offering at them."

Robinson continued, "If you work at it enough, sooner or later they're going to get it. And we try to grind it out and try to make sure that when we're in the cage, if it's not a good pitch and he swings, I let him know. Real simple. Easy stuff. It gets in the back of the brain and sooner or later, you figure it out. Success is not overnight. That's what I try to explain to them.

He comes in every day after the (previous night's) game, and he wants to see where pitches were in the strike zone. They have the app now where they can look. He may come in and just question some of them. 'What do you think about this? What do you think about that? Was that a good pitch to swing at in that count?' Things like that. I think it's helping."

With the improvements in Laureano's strike zone management, Vazquez likes Laureano in the 3-hole and that is precisely where he has been used the vast majority of the 2016 season, "My first thought since I saw him last year playing in Quad Cities (was to put him in the 3-hole). I thought he would be a really good 3-hole hitter the way he drives the ball all over the ballpark."

Vazquez continued with his assessment of Laureano, "Laureano is one of those guys who can kind of do it all. Right now, home runs aren't showing in the stats but this is a guy that can do a little bit of everything. He can hit for power. He can hit for average. He can run the bases. He can play great defense out there. I really like this kid."

Here is what Laureano had to say for himself when I talked with him last week.


Thank you for your time, Ramon, and best of luck as the season continues.

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