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Ramsey collects three hits in debut

Cardinals' first-rounder feels right at home in Palm Beach
July 2, 2012
Just two weeks after guiding Florida State to the semifinals of the College World Series, St. Louis first-rounder James Ramsey made the transition to pro ball look effortless.

Ramsey went 3-for-5 with a double, a stolen base and a run scored in his Minor League debut Monday in Class A Advanced Palm Beach's 5-4 loss to Jupiter.

"I would say it was good just to get out there and compete again," said Ramsey, selected 23rd overall in the 2012 Draft. "It hasn't been long since the College World Series, but it was nice to become part of the Cardinals' family this week.

"It was a quick transition for me. I signed Friday night and then flew out on Sunday. It was a challenge going through four different cities. I went from Tallahassee to Atlanta, and then after 36 hours, I went from Atlanta to St. Louis to sign. I went back to Atlanta on Saturday morning and then to Palm Beach on Sunday."

On Monday, the 22-year-old doubled to left field in his first at-bat in the first inning and he beat out an infield single to shortstop with two outs in the third.

Ramsey then singled back up the middle to load the bases in the fifth frame before grounding into a forceout, stealing second base and scoring on Rainel Rosario's line drive to center field in the seventh.

"I was just staying with my normal approach -- taking pitches, getting deep into counts and taking what the pitcher gave me," said Ramsey, who had around 15 family members and friends in the stands. "If he pitched me away, I'd try to go away; if he pitched me inside, I would try and pull it.

"To get the first hit out of the way in the first at-bat was pretty special. I worked the count 3-2 and hit a line drive down the left side over the third baseman. It was big for me, but all of the hits were great."

Playing center field and batting third, Ramsey struck out in his final at-bat in the ninth.

"[The Cardinals] want to see me be myself and do the things that got me here. They will evaluate me day to day, but if I do the things I know I can do well, hopefully I will be on the fast track. I need to keep my blue collar mentality -- never too high, never too low and keep on grinding."

In his senior year at Florida State, he led the Seminoles -- ranked third nationally -- to their 21st College World Series where they lost in the semifinals to eventual champion Arizona.

Ramsey earned a below-slot $1.6-million signing bonus, according to Baseball America. Ramsey had to wait until his participation in the NCAA Division I playoffs ended before he was eligible to sign.

"I think a lot of people will question why [St. Louis] paid that, but the Cardinals value me as a player and a lot of other teams valued me in the same ballpark. They know I will be in the big leagues before long, and they know they have someone who will be able to lead this team.

"They put me straight in High-A for a reason and they obviously have a lot of faith in me."

In 2012, the native of Alpharetta, Ga., led all Seminoles hitters with a .378 batting average and 13 homers in 67 games in his senior year. The captain of the team, he also ranked first on the team in runs scored (78) and triples (six), and he finished second in RBIs (58) and walks (63).

Despite those numbers, Ramsey -- a finance major twice named to the President's List for holding a 4.0 GPA -- says his top attribute is his makeup.

"I think maybe my best tool is my sixth tool, because people know that I do the other five pretty well, said Ramsey, named the MVP of the East team at the 2011 Cape Cod All-Star Game. "I have the confidence to know that I project to be a big leaguer pretty quickly and I have a team-first mentality. I don't have a glaring weakness, but there is always room to improve.

"Coach [Mike] Martin was the college baseball coach of the year and FSU invests on you on and off the field. The things I learned there are invaluable."

On Monday, Palm Beach starter Scott Schneider surrendered one run on three hits over four innings, but he did not factor in the decision. Dean Kiekhefer (2-2) gave up three runs on four hits over two-thirds of an inning in the ninth.

Cardinals catcher Luis De La Cruz was 3-for-4 with an RBI in the loss.

Jupiter's Chad James allowed three runs -- one earned -- on five hits and three walks while striking out five batters over the first five innings. Michael Brady, the third reliever out of the 'pen, fanned two batters over a perfect ninth to improve to 2-3.

Hammerheads' center fielder Christian Yelich --'s No. 28 prospect -- was 2-for-4 with his 10th homer of the year in the victory. Leadoff hitter Danny Black recorded the decisive blow with a two-out, game-winning RBI single in the bottom of the ninth.

Ashley Marshall is a contributor to