Tampa Bay Rays bullpen catcher, Jean Ramirez, has died at age 28, the club announced on Tuesday evening. No cause of death was immediately available.
“We extend our deepest sympathy and condolences to Jean’s family,” Rays president Erik Neander said in a statement. “He was a caring teammate and friend. He exuded so much joy in all he did, and his kind heart was truly a gift to all. As we process this unexpected and difficult loss, we are grateful for the times we shared with Jean.”
“Jean was an incredible teammate and friend,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said in a statement. “He brought so much passion and energy each day to our clubhouse and bullpen, and his love for the Rays and baseball was evident to all who interacted with him. He had the biggest heart and most infectious smile. We extend our deepest condolences to his family and friends. Jean will be deeply missed.”
Ramirez was born in Puerto Rico and then went to high school in Fort Worth, Texas (Boswell HS). He started out in college ball with the University of Arkansas but ended up graduating from Illinois State. After his career at ISU, he was drafted in the 28th round by the Rays.
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In rookie ball and Low-A, Ramirez didn’t find much success at the plate, but he was impressive enough behind the plate — notably, unsurprisingly, in working with pitchers in the bullpen — that he rose the ranks as a bullpen catcher. He spent the past three seasons with the Rays in that role, which is technically an assistant coaching role.