MILWAUKEE -- Neil Ramirez was primarily a starter in the Minor Leagues, and he did not save a single game there. This season, the rookie reliever has given up one earned run in 11 2/3 innings pitched for the Cubs.
But with Hector Rondon away on paternity leave, Ramirez was the Cubs' designated closer against the Brewers. No big deal said Ramirez, rated the Cubs' No. 13 prospect by MLB.com.
"If you go out there and make a situation more than what it needs to be, that's when you get in trouble," Ramirez said Saturday before the second of three games in Milwaukee. "For me, whether it's a closing role or starting role or sixth inning or whatever it is, I always want to focus on what I want the ball to do and where I want it to go. I just want to focus on making pitches."
Entering Saturday, Ramirez had appeared in two games against the Brewers, including his Major League debut April 25 at Miller Park. The Milwaukee hitters have not seen him too much.
"That'll help me out a little bit the first time through," Ramirez said. "But they have video, and I've faced them a couple times. They had a good plan [Friday against Travis Wood], and we'll have to adjust to what they were doing.
"I have to concentrate on making pitches, and if it's the eighth inning or ninth inning, it doesn't matter," he said.
As Draft nears, Wright reflects on his selection
MILWAUKEE -- In 2003, Wesley Wright was a skinny pitcher for Goshen (Ala.) High School. Area scout Clarence Johns arranged for Wright to pitch at a regional workout in New Orleans with eight other players before the First-Year Player Draft that year.
Johns scouted players for the Dodgers, and Tommy Lasorda attended the workout in New Orleans.
"After I threw off the mound, Lasorda called me over," Wright said Saturday, recalling the day. "He said he liked what he saw, and he said I was going to be a Dodger. It happened a few weeks later."
Wright had hoped to be picked in the Draft, but he expected it would happen in the late rounds. Scouts told him that he was too small at 5-foot-9, 138 pounds, and had recommended he go to college.
"I thought I might eventually be a Dodger, but it might be a real late Draft pick," Wright said. "When they called in the seventh round, it was kind of cool that I had that moment. I still have a picture from that day that we took. It was my first introduction into the business side of pro ball and dealing with scouts and workouts. That was the ony pre-Draft workout I went to."
The Cubs have the fourth overall pick in Thursday's Draft, and this is the last weekend their scouts can get a look at some of the top talent available. Wright's story just shows you never know what will happen.
"My scout, Clarence Johns, really believed in me," Wright said. "It was his belief that convinced me that I was ready."
Renteria reiterates long-term plan for Bryant
MILWAUKEE -- Cubs manager Rick Renteria reads the Minor League reports, and though he can't help but notice what Kris Bryant is doing at Double-A Tennessee, he is not lobbying for the third baseman to get to the big leagues too soon.
On Friday, Bryant hit his Southern League-leading 17th home run and was batting .347 overall. The third baseman, rated the Cubs' top prospect by MLB.com after being selected by them in the first round of last June's First-Year Player Draft, entered Saturday having homered in three straight games. He was batting .404 in May with six doubles, 12 homers and 34 RBIs.
The message the Cubs' front office gave to prospects was to dominate at their respective levels to make a promotion likely. What more does Bryant have to do?
"There are a lot of people working with those kids down there, and the front office is in contact with them and we talk; we all have to be on the same page," Renteria said Saturday. "When those decisions are made, we all have to be sure that when we make them, that we have the understanding that sometimes there are hiccups."
Renteria saw that firsthand in San Diego. He was on the Padres' coaching staff when Anthony Rizzo was first promoted to the big league team in June 2011. Rizzo was starring at Triple-A Tucson when promoted, but he batted .143 in 35 games with San Diego, and he was demoted to the Minors until Sept. 4.
"It was a little rough, and he had to go back," Renteria said. "Everybody's experience is different. I do think we all have to be very mindful that we're looking out for the best long-term interest of the player and the club."
Renteria said it was good to see the positive numbers in the Minor League reports.
"I'm sure they're building confidence with the desire to come here," he said. "As an organization, we have to be mindful and sure that when we pull the trigger on any decision that's made, it's for the betterment of the player and for our organization."
Castro makes case to avoid sitting vs. Brewers
MILWAUKEE -- Anthony Rizzo got Friday off, and the plan was to give Starlin Castro a breather on Sunday in the series finale against the Brewers. But the shortstop went into Cubs manager Rick Renteria's office on Saturday to lobby to play.
"Starlin came in and talked to me today, and he says, 'I know you're thinking about giving me a day, but I'm good to go," Renteria said.
After Saturday's game, Renteria said he changed his mind, and Castro was scheduled to start Sunday.
"He came into the dugout, and said, 'Hey, I'm good,'" Renteria said after Saturday's game, an 8-0 win over the Brewers. "We have to pick and choose our battles and when it's the right time. When both we as managers and coaches and players are on the same page and we both feel it, we'll find that time for him."
Castro has started all 53 games at shortstop, and he has said he wants to play all 162, which he did in 2012. He played in 161 games in 2013.
Renteria said Castro was adamant about playing, and in a good way.
"He had a good message," Renteria said.
If Castro does change his mind, Darwin Barney would start at shortstop.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.