Bowden: Neil Ramirez key to potential Garza deal

ARLINGTON, Texas -- ESPN.com analyst Jim Bowden appeared on Fitzsimmons & Durrett on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM on Friday and said that minor league pitcher Neil Ramirez has emerged as the centerpiece of the Rangers' potential trade for Chicago Cubs right-hander Matt Garza.

Ramirez, currently with Double-A Frisco, has bounced back in 2013 with a 9-3 record and a 3.30 ERA. He's throwing his fastball 93-95 mph and topping out at 98 mph. His curve was voted as the best in the Rangers' minor league system in 2007, but it's his changeup that has developed as his out pitch.

The 24-year Ramirez pitched at all three levels in 2011, then floundered in 2012. He was 6-8 with a 7.66 ERA for 15 starts for Triple-A Round Rock and was demoted back to Frisco, where he's rekindled his trade stock this season.

The 44th overall pick in the 2007 draft out of Virginia Tech hasn't pitched since July 5 because of a shoulder issue, but that doesn't appear to be hindering the Cubs from wanting him included in a potential deal, with the Rangers telling Chicago they won't deal left-hander Martin Perez or High A Myrtle Beach right-hander Luke Jackson.

Ramirez will start for Double-A Frisco on Friday night, ending his two-week layoff.