Kovacevic: Harold’s laugh, Trout’s scout, hockeytown, Brownout ☕


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Remember Harold Ramirez?

He lasered a three-run home run and a double Sunday in Miami against the Pirates, one that might not have climbed more than a couple dozen feet off the ground.

No, really, he might as well have buzzed the bill of Chris Archer's blue cap:

And beyond that, he's being noticed across Major League Baseball for pounding out 38 hits in his first 30 games with the Marlins, breaking the franchise's rookie record. Just before that, he'd been batting .351 with Class AAA New Orleans to earn his call-up.

He and catcher Reese McGuire were the two prospects Neal Huntington sent to Toronto in 2016 in the blatant dumping of Francisco Liriano's salary, purportedly -- and the Pirates passionately insisted on this at the time -- because they just had to have journeyman non-prospect Drew Hutchison. The latter, of course, would become an epic embarrassment unto himself and barely saw the light of day in Pittsburgh, giving up seven runs and two homers in 11 1/3 innings over six total games for the franchise.

Ramirez was signed as a 16-year-old international free agent out of Colombia by Rene Gayo, the former Latin American scouting director, and by Orlando Covo, a full-time banker in Bogota, Colombia, who Gayo trusted enough for his baseball acumen to pay him for part-time scouting, both getting an assist from the brilliant baseball eye of Marc DelPiano.

Signing bonus: $1.05 million.

Imagine watching an amateur play a sport as intricate and involved as baseball at that age and in those conditions -- Colombia's not the most fertile ground for the sport -- and having the God-given gift of being able to project big-league potential, much less eventually watching the kid realize it.

I share this not to call attention anew to that terrible trade. Everyone knew exactly what it was at the time, and no amount of lying was going to obfuscate it.

Rather, I share because, back in January at PiratesFest, Huntington took an uncharacteristically classless shot at Gayo while speaking to a group of season-ticket holders -- I was in the back of the room, with other reporters  -- saying unsolicited to one fan that the Pirates have had two of their best classes from that region the past couple years, and better, he went out of his way to stress, than any over the previous decade. Gayo wasn’t mentioned by name, but the dig was obvious.

The owner doesn't care. The payroll is too low. But I'll keep saying this until anyone actually listens: This front office's No. 1 problem with a bullet is that it can't recognize baseball talent.

Which is why they'll sink as low as taking shots at those who can.

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