Rays bullpen catcher passes away at age 28

January 14th, 2022

ST. PETERSBURG -- Rays bullpen catcher Jean Ramirez died unexpectedly on Monday at the age of 28, the team announced on Tuesday.

The Tarrant County (Texas) Medical Examiner’s office shared on Thursday that Ramirez died by suicide, per a Tampa Bay Times report. Ramirez's family issued the following statement:

“The loss of our son has been the most excruciating experience we have lived. Unfortunately, we sometimes don’t see the signs. Struggling in silence is not OK. It is our commitment to honor our son’s life by helping other families. No parent should have to endure the loss of their child. We are very grateful to the Tampa Bay Rays organization, whom we consider our family, for their love and support. Our son felt loved by all of you. Thank you to our family, friends and everyone else far and near for the outpouring of love and support. God bless you! Rays Up in Heaven -- The Ramirez family."

Ramirez was selected by the Rays in the 28th round of the 2016 Draft and spent three seasons in Tampa Bay’s Minor League system from 2016-18 before being released as a player. He quickly returned to the organization, accepting an invitation to join the Rays’ Major League staff in 2019.

“We extend our deepest sympathy and condolences to Jean’s family,” Rays president of baseball operations 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.”

The club provided no further details in the announcement of Ramirez’s passing. Popular with players, coaches and staff alike, it was a sad and stunning loss felt throughout Tampa Bay’s organization.

“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.”

Last year was Ramirez’s third season as Tampa Bay’s bullpen catcher. In 2019, he told The Athletic he hoped to eventually become a manager, bench coach or coordinator with a Major League team, following in the footsteps of his father, Carlos, a longtime coach who’s currently an assistant with Hawaii Pacific University.

Ramirez played baseball in college at the University of Arkansas, Grayson County College and Illinois State University, where he graduated in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in science. A native of Bayamón, Puerto Rico, he attended high school and lived in the Fort Worth, Texas, area. The Rays’ run to the 2020 World Series was a homecoming of sorts for Ramirez, who wore his No. 98 jersey as he warmed up pitchers in the bullpen of Arlington’s Globe Life Field.

“Me being from around the area, people have been reaching out and saying how proud they are and how exciting of a moment this is, and I completely agree,” Ramirez told WTSP during the 2020 World Series. “This is the best moment of my life.”