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Oops! All Astros: J.P. France & Rafael Ramirez

Today, we review minor leaguers J.P. France & Rafael Ramirez.

J.P. France & Rafael Ramirez are the 31st chapter of our 158-part offseason series.

J.P. France

J.P. France is a six-foot, 216 lb. right-handed pitcher from New Orleans, LA. Born on April 4, 1995, he was an Astros 14th-round choice in 2018 out of Mississippi State, 432nd overall. Doug DeCinces (41.7 WAR) & Kent Hrbek (38.6 WAR) lead the seven major leaguers who have made the bigs after being chosen 432nd. France signed with the Astros for a $1,000 bonus and reported to the Tri-City ValleyCats in the Short-Season-A NYPL. He would move on to the Middle-A Quad Cities River Bandits later in the year.

France spent 2019 with the then-High-A Fayetteville Woodpeckers, where he ranked fourth in the Carolina League both with 8.97 K/9 and with 7.89 H/9. After taking 2020 off with the rest of the country, he split the 2021 campaign between the Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks and the Triple-A Sugar Land Skeeters. He led the short-lived AAA-West League with 11.99 K/9, 7.51 H/9, and a 3.59 ERA.

This past year, France spent all year at the Triple-A level with the newly christened Sugar Land Space Cowboys, starting in 15 of his 34 pitching appearances. In 110 23 frames, he went 3-4 with three saves, a 3.90 ERA, 11.1 K/9, 8.1 H/9, and a 1.355 WHIP. On July 16, France pitched seven innings of one-hit ball, striking out seven in an eventual 1-0 victory against the Reno Aces. His 81 GameScore was a season-best, although he earned no decision for his effort.

France will presumably be in the mix for a roster spot during 2023 Spring Training.

Rafael Ramirez

Rafael Ramirez is a six-foot-one, 185 lb., right-handed infielder from Azua, DR. Born on November 9, 2004, he signed his first professional contract with the Astros in January earlier this year.

Ramirez reported to the Rookie-level DSL Astros Blue in time for their season. On June 9, he fell a triple short of the cycle, collecting a pair of RBI in a 10-9 loss to the DSL White Sox.

Ramirez had a hard time hitting, with a .155/.253/.254 slash line, but it’s not all bad news. He struck out just under a quarter of the time and drew walks about nine percent of the time. He also hit three homers with 17 RBI and went seven-of-10 stealing bases.

Defensively, Ramirez played 162 13 innings at third base (.872 fielding percentage), 101 23 innings at shortstop (.900 fielding percentage), and 50 23 innings at second base (1.000 fielding percentage). Clearly he needs more time at second. Despite his anemic slash line, Ramirez is young enough yet to find a decent stroke, with surprising and mostly untapped raw power. Look for him to spend another season with the rookie outfit.