"He's got a lot of talent," manager Jim Leyland said Tuesday afternoon. "He's a little crude, but he's got a lot of talent -- strong, fast. He's got a lot of ability. I would say he's got to be one of the more natural ability guys we have."
It was the reason why he was a highly-coveted signing out of the Dominican Republic as a teenager. It's also showing in his stats as he continues to emerge as a gifted offensive player.
An All-Star Futures Game starter last season at Yankee Stadium and an Eastern League All-Star, the 23-year-old Ramirez made the jump to Triple-A out of Spring Training and has heated up after an opening month that showed a burst of speed but not a lot of power.
For the season, Ramirez is batting .316 with the Mud Hens, with five home runs, 13 RBIs, 23 runs scored and 14 stolen bases in 17 attempts. That includes a 12-for-22 tear since May 8, with four homers and six RBIs. He had a two-homer, four-hit game on Saturday at Charlotte, then went 3-for-3 with another homer and a stolen base on Sunday.
The 6-foot-2, 190-pound Ramirez is tied for the International League lead in stolen bases.
"That's a big advantage," Leyland said of Ramirez's speed. "In Spring Training, he got some ground ball hits, infield hits. He puts pressure on the defense. We're trying to get a little more of that here, which we do right now."
Ramirez, Leyland said, is faster than Clete Thomas, who is fleet afoot himself. Leyland compared Ramirez's power and speed to that of former Tigers top prospect Cameron Maybin, who was traded to Florida in the Miguel Cabrera deal a year and a half ago.
"He's got two real pluses: Power and speed," Leyland said. "Those are two real pluses, and you don't find that [together] very often. He's got both of them."
Ordonez went on the family medical emergency list after Sunday's game to be with his wife while she undergoes surgery. He is expected to miss at least the first two games against the Rangers. The Tigers can recall him as soon as Thursday, but it's uncertain whether he'll be back with the team that day or in time for that afternoon's game.