The idea of Manny Ramirez having a positive impact on minor leagues players seemed, at best, far-fetched. However, Chicago Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein believed the former slugger had changed.
That’s why Epstein took a chance earlier this season and signed the ex-big leaguer to serve as a coach and part-time player with the Cubs’ Triple-A team in Iowa. Taking that chance appears to have paid off.
Ramirez left the Iowa Cubs last week, skipping out on the final four games after suffering a knee injury. However, an in-depth profile from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal shows how much of a positive impact Ramirez made while with the Cubs.
“If you had asked me a few years ago, I never would have believed that we would voluntarily put Manny in a position to impact our most important players – and that he would come through,” Epstein raved to Rosenthal.
The Cubs’ farm system is stacked. In a perfect world, Ramirez would come in and help mentor top prospects like Javier Baez, Jorge Soler and Kris Bryant. During Ramirez’s time in Iowa, Baez and Soler were promoted to the major leagues. Bryant hit 21 home runs with 52 RBIs in 70 games at Triple-A this season.
Ramirez surely gets some of the credit for aiding the development of those young players.
However, his positive impact was felt beyond hitting advice. Ramirez had been humbled late in his big-league career after multiple off-field incidents as well as positive performance-enhancing drug tests. He apparently learned from those mistakes and turned them into teaching lessons in his role with the Cubs.
“It made me proud just to go to those kids and tell them all the things that I did,” Ramirez told Rosenthal. “They look up to me, the kind of player I am. Now they can look up to me and say, ‘Look at this guy with everything in the world. He’s coming to us and being humble.’
“Not a lot of people like to do that — make a mistake and go in front of people, and say, ‘I did this. I did that.’ At the end of the road, everyone respects you more. That’s why I did it.”
Now that his time with the Cubs is done, Ramirez is working on his next goal: returning to the major leagues.
“Nobody wants to give up the dream.”
Photo via Twitter/@IowaCubs