Jean Ramirez, who died Monday, became the Tampa Bay Rays bullpen catcher in 2019. Photo by Will Vragovic/Tampa Bay Rays)
Jan. 12 (UPI) -- Jean Ramirez, a former MLB draft pick and the Tampa Bay Rays bullpen catcher since 2019, died unexpectedly in Texas, the Rays announced. He was 28.
The Rays said Tuesday that Ramirez died a day earlier. No cause of death was provided pending an autopsy.
"Jean played in our organization and was most recently a bullpen catcher for our major league team," 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."
Ramirez joined the Rays as a 28th round pick in the 2016 MLB Draft. He spent three seasons in the Minor League Baseball system and was released in 2018.
"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," Rays manager Kevin Cash said.
"He had the biggest heart and most infectious smile. We extend our deepest condolences to his family and friends. Jean will be deeply missed."
Ramirez, a native of Bayamon, Puerto Rico, attended Boswell High School in Fort Worth, Texas. He later attended Illinois State and Arkansas.
The former catcher and first baseman hit .175 in the minors from 2013 through 2018. He hit a career-best .307 with eight home runs and 39 RBIs in 59 games in 2015 for the Madison Mallards, a collegiate summer baseball team based in Madison, Wis.