One of the most exciting aspects of having Minor League Baseball back is watching the players we all expect to be our next great superstars. Other exciting aspects include: strange regional foods, dizzy bat races among lucky fans, the works.
The point is, when we scour the Minor League box scores every day, we are looking, essentially, for the future: We want to know who’s coming next. The only problem with that is, well, baseball’s a tough, funny game. Sometimes it takes a while for players to figure themselves out. Remember, Mike Trout hit .220 in his first 40 games in the Majors. Just because someone’s a future star doesn’t mean they’re not going to struggle. And just because someone’s struggling doesn’t mean they’re not going to turn into a superstar.
So today, we look at five current superstars … and the worst year they had in the Minors. It’s a process, you know. It takes time. In the words of Rufus from Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure … “They get better.”
José Ramírez, 3B, Cleveland
2013: 3 HR, .325 OBP, 533 plate appearances at Double-A
Can you imagine a world where Ramírez -- a guy who hit 39 homers in 2018 and hit 17 in 58 games last year -- only had three homers in 533 plate appearances? Ramírez was known for his speed and defense in the Minors, but certainly not for his bat. It’s not like his power exploded before he reached the Majors at all; he had only one homer at Triple-A Columbus in 44 games in 2015. But then he hit 11 with Cleveland in 2016, 29 in '17 and he was off. He didn’t lose that speed, though. Power can come late. With Ramírez, it came very late.