Few people like red-eye flights, especially if you have trouble sleeping on airplanes. They can be especially difficult if you're a professional baseball player unknowingly scheduled to pitch in a day game hours later.
This was the life of undrafted, Bay Area native Robert Ramer from late Saturday night through Sunday afternoon. Thankfully, the 24-year-old right-hander was spectacular in his debut, pitching five scoreless innings en route to earning the victory as the Augusta GreenJackets defeated Greenville 10-5.
"It's been a pretty crazy day," Ramer admitted. "I kind of figured I would pitch today with what my manager said but I felt pretty good.
"They kept me prepared in Indy ball and then down in the Arizona League before I got here. I felt strong even after flying all night."
To pile on, Ramer wasn't even sure where he was headed when he received word he'd been assigned to a team.
"My manager in Arizona originally said Salem and then I got my flight details and it said I was flying in to Augusta," Ramer said. "I was pleasantly surprised but quite thrown off. That's a long ways to travel on a red eye and pitch in a day game."
Ramer, a graduate of Fremont High School in Sunnyvale, Calif., pitched for two seasons with the Evansville Otters, a professional independent team, after playing his collegiate ball in the Big-10 with Purdue University.
After posting a 1.70 ERA in seven starts with Evansville this season, his contract was purchased on June 28 by the San Francisco Giants — his hometown team.
"It was awesome," Ramer said. "It was truly a dream come true when my agent told me who was going to sign me."
Ramer features a fastball and a sinker in the high-80s, a slider, and a changeup. He used that arsenal to strike out six hitters and allow just two baserunners over five scoreless frames on Sunday.
"Just from my short experience, you can tell that the hitters here are a lot more disciplined," he said of the talent in the South Atlantic League. "You have to be a lot smarter as a pitcher."
Ramer will join fellow Big-10 players Donald Snelten (Minnesota) and Ryan Jones (Michigan State) on an Augusta GreenJackets team loaded with young talent, including three of the organization's top-20 prospects.