Tampa Bay Rays bullpen catcher Jean Ramirez has died at the age of 28, the club announced on Tuesday evening. No cause of death was immediately available.
“We extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to Jean’s family,” Rays President Eric Neander said in a statement. “He was a caring companion and friend. There was so much joy in everything he did, and his kind heart was truly a gift to all. As we process this unexpected and difficult loss, we look forward to Jean’s love.” Grateful for the time shared together.”
“Gene was an incredible teammate and friend,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said in a statement. “He brought so much passion and energy to our clubhouse and bullpen every day, and his love for the Rays and baseball was evident to everyone who interacted with him. He had the biggest heart and most infectious smile. We love him.” My deepest condolences to the family and friends. Jean will be greatly missed.”
Ramirez was born in Puerto Rico and then went to high school in Fort Worth, Texas (Boswell HS). He started out with the University of Arkansas in college ball but went on to graduate from Illinois State. Following his career at ISU, he was drafted by the Rays in the 28th round.
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In rookie ball and low-A, Ramirez didn’t have much success at the plate, but he was influential enough behind the plate—particularly, unsurprisingly, in working with pitchers in the bullpen—that he played as a bullpen. Rank-Risinger He spent the last three seasons with the Rays in a role that is technically an assistant coaching role.