Boyle Heights turned Cal State Fullerton turned Angels pitcher Noe Ramirez is living his MLB dream in front of his family and friends. He’s active in the community, was recently honored by the LA City Council for his charity work, and hard at work preparing for 2019.
He took a few minutes out of his busy schedule to talk baseball and life with me. Noe is clearly a passionate guy, very giving with his time, and loves being an Angel. Here is a transcript of that talk. I hope you enjoy it:
Noe, you were recently in the news for being honored by the City Council. What was that honor for?
“Just a recognition for continued support for the neighborhood. I grew up in Boyle Heights, East LA. I got a lot of following, a lot of support coming from there so it’s only right to go back there, make an appearance, talk to some kids. You know, be a little inspiration. I have an annual baseball clinic that we just finished up about two weekends ago.
So, just being involved, man. I feel like its my duty, anybody in my position, should take that seriously so I’m really happy to do it. Its a good feeling.”
I really, really respect that. I do like the fact that Arte tends to bring in a lot of guys who do a lot of work in the community. Is that something you guys discuss among yourselves, your charity work and all the different charities guys do?
“Yeah. That’s what Arte’s all about. Lot of respect to him for that. You know, there’s so much money in the game that it can turn people different ways. Sometimes it can be just a business. But when you can separate business, charities, everything it is pretty special. That’s what Arte does.
Every Spring Training he talks to us and the first thing he really stresses is the fans. Give them time, if we can sign some stuff, sign it, he really appreciates that. Obviously its about winning too, but he really makes a huge point to please the crowd and have a good relationship with the fans. Its pretty cool.”
And I saw you out at Moving Day with a really long line of fans waiting to meet you and get your autograph. What was that day like from your side of the table, pretty cool seeing everybody out there being excited?
“Yeah, for sure. Obviously this was my first time doing the Angels Fan Fest/Moving Day deal and I honestly didn’t know what to expect. I wasn’t expecting a crowd like that. It was pretty cool, yeah. There were pretty big lines all around to get autographs from Middleton, Fletch, and myself.
There was a lot of support and the Angels did a good job, too, of putting that together. You could just feel the excitement in the air. It was a pretty cool experience.”
I’m sure getting to live your Major League dream is great anywhere and I’m sure you appreciated your time in Boston, but is it just a little bit cooler doing it back home?
“It is, man. Obviously there’s so many people that I know around the area, especially, actually in Orange County believe it or not. I traveled a lot from East LA to Orange County for travel ball, most of our tournaments were out there. So I was going to just as many Angel games as I was Dodger games.
It’s a cool experience, you know, I see a lot of people at the stadium. Just random people from over the years. Just reconnecting, which is always cool. A lot of people have helped me along my way in baseball and all that.
You know, it can get overwhelming, I’m not going to lie, but its cool man. I’m super appreciative I get to play at home so I’m just going to keep working hard to make sure my experience its at the top.
Its real cool and having all these people around definitely makes it special.”
And how did you find out that you were traded to the Angels?
“Actually, I got designated first. This was, I was in triple-A at the time and I was in Louisville and [Red Sox GM Dave] Dombrowski gave me call. He said that there were some roster changes that needed to be made and my name was at the center of it. So he called and just thanked me for everything. I thanked him, he’s really professional, and um, that following day.
You just don’t know. You don’t know what to expect when you get DFA’d. You have some days depending on how many times you’ve been designated for assignment. But I honestly had no clue, it was my first time being DFA’d. Me and my agents were like ‘we have no clue what’s going to happen, we haven’t heard anything.’
Pretty early on, I guess the following day, I get a call from Dave Dombrowski saying the Angels picked up my contract and I was like ‘Yeah!’ I just couldn’t believe it. It was so crazy It was....I was coming home, you know. Man, it could have been any other team but it was the Angels. It was home town.
It was just a crazy experience. It was really hard to hold my excitement in when Dombrowski called me and told me that, honestly..
So from probably the worst day of your professional career to one of the best back to back?
“Oh, absolutely man. And that’s a perfect example of what baseball is. One day you can be just so happy, just the highest highs of live you know, and then the next day it can be the absolute worst. Its what can happen.
Its crazy. This sport is definitely a crazy sport and you definitely need to be mentally prepared for all of it. No matter which side of it comes at you, it can get crazy.”
Cool. Our readers are die hard baseball fans. Some had noticed when you were designated were like ‘bring home the Fullerton kid’ and were happy when came on board.
So you got here last year and got off to a great start, then did you run into some fatigue? You logged more appearances last year than you’d ever had before in your career, right?
“Yeah, last year was my first full year in the big leagues. First full experience. So it was definitely a learning process. I’m not going to lie about that.
Its a different routine. Its a different mindset. You got to be locked in every single day. It can get really tiring but you just got to do it, keep on trucking along.
As far as fatigue goes, I don’t think it was fatigue. I felt pretty good. I might have fell into a couple of holes with my delivery throughout the year, and that’s another part of it; staying consistent, especially with your delivery.
Again, its a whole learning process. At the same time, I wasn’t really fatigued. I never asked for any days. Actually, Sosh is really good with rest and especially with the guys who go multiple innings so I felt good.
I kept talking to Andrew Bailey a lot during and throughout the year. We talked. You’d be out there playing catch and he’d be out there just walking around, helping out if anybody needs help. I’d ask him some questions.
And that was another thing, I got really positive late in the year. Now I know I can throw 80 plus innings and it’s in my head that I can do it. And I came out healthy. I think there’s only four guys that stayed on the squad the entire year last year and I was one of them and I take pride in that.
So now its moving on, getting better, staying and being a little more consistent throughout the year. But fatigue was definitely not a thing.
I was just wondering because you seemed to go out there every day and I remember thinking ‘my arm would be falling off by now.’
The learning process. Are they doing videos, biomechanics, we keep hearing all this data about spin rates, is the Angels approach a lot of data or you just take the data that you want, how does that work?
“Last year, data was available. It was all out there. If you wanted to know about it, if you wanted to learn about it, you got it like ‘boom.’ They could have it to you in minutes. But, it wasn’t like stressed on you.
A lot of guys feeling locked in haven’t gotten into the whole sabermetrics deal, especially the old school guys. Its not a thing, its not a norm, guys just want to go out there and its all about feel. Its not about knowing how fast my ball spins, its about being in control of your mechanics, being out in front, all that.
But I think so far this year they’re... I’ve talked to [new Angels pitching coach] Doug White a couple times and we’ve talked about the numbers and all that and I think its going to be stressed a little more this year. The input is going to be a little more is what it seems like so far.
And I’m all about it, man. I’ve actually asked him to give me a call and he’s actually been FaceTiming guys and talking one on one and showing charts. If you really want to know what your ball does, how your slider does, he will have a chart there for you to show where we stand in the big leagues, and all that data.
I think, he said we’ll have a meeting about it when Spring starts, so I’m expecting those sabermetrics things to be stressed this year, for sure.
Cool to hear you embracing it.
“It’s the new thing, man. Its shown its helped a bunch of guys. I know [Adam] Ottavino spent an entire off season really mastering that and then had that incredible year last year.
Its a new movement and its pretty exciting, honestly.
So is that a big part of your off season regime? What have you really been working on getting ready for Spring Training to start?
“That’s kind of been thrown out there. At the same time, its kind of hard.
I go to this indoor place where I throw bullpens in Pasadena and they have the whole setup there. They have video, they have cameras recording, they have spin rate, spin efficiency, it has velo, all sorts of info you need to know about.
After every pitch I would just completely lose my focus, forget about my mechanics and just look at the screen and like ‘alright’ (chuckling). If that was a good pitch, I was like ‘let me get back to it.’
Its a learning process. Its an extra thing in your head, which is kind of tough. But then my next bullpen I went without it and my bullpen was just lights out. Like, dang, its tough. Maybe I shouldn’t be looking at it in the middle of my bullpen.
But at the same time, that machine has this tracker, it shows the axis of your ball and the pitch before that. And if a certain pitch felt good, you can look at the video of that pitch and see where your fingers were on the ball right when you were releasing and this you look at the axis on a little screen of how the ball was spinning and you’re like ‘alright, I’m going to just try to remember that feeling there. I’m going to try to get my fingers up on the ball just right there for that slider because that one was nasty.’
And I think that’s what you can take away from it as well. Its not really focusing on the RPMs but finger location when you’re releasing the ball. And that’s just a whole nother deal within it, which is crazy. Its a lot.”
Thanks for breaking that down. We read about all this stuff but we don’t have access to the training facilities like you.
There’s one question we ask everybody: Which one is better, In-N-Out Burger or Five Guys with Fries?
(Chuckles) “Oh, In-N-Out! In-N-Out.
I mean, honestly, this argument it happens a lot in the clubhouse, especially among guys who don’t live on the West Coast and all but I don’t think they’re comparable.
I think they’re way different. Totally different tastes. Like every time people start arguing I’m like ‘you can’t compare them, its not right.’ Five Guys seasons their fries with steak seasonings or whatever that is. In-N-Out doesn’t do that, or maybe they have a secret menu and they do on that, but its just completely different.”
Noe, I really appreciate your time today, the answers, and the work you do in the community. Thank you very much and have a great day.
“You too, Jeff.”
Please leave questions and comments below. I will be sending this to Noe, so if you want to say something to him, here’s your chance.