The San Francisco Giants have high hopes for outfield prospect Heliot Ramos. A comparison made by a former coach two years ago is looking more and more realistic.
The San Francisco Giants swung for the fences when they selected outfielder Heliot Ramos with the No. 19 pick in the 2017 draft.
MLB.com ranked him as the No. 40 prospect in the 2017 draft class, painting him as one of the more polarizing players in that year’s crop:
"“There is no question that Ramos has a big, strong athletic build and has legitimate power potential. It’s after that the debate begins. Those who really like him see a solid hit tool and the ability to tap into that raw power consistently, keeping the barrel of the bat in the zone a long time and creating backspin. Others question the bat speed a bit more and wonder if he can turn on balls enough to reach that power.”"
His pro career started off with a bang. He hit .348/.404/.645 with 23 extra-base hits in 35 rookie ball games after signing, earning himself a ticket to Single-A ball in his first full season.
The 2018 campaign exposed him a bit as a raw prospect still in need of further refinement.
Facing older competition, he hit .245/.313/.396 with 24 doubles, eight triples and 11 home runs in 535 plate appearances while striking out at a 25.4 percent rate.
That lackluster showing caused him to drop on some leaguewide prospect lists, including MLB.com where he is slotted at No. 87 after closing out the 2018 season at No. 74 on their top 100 list.
He exploded out the gates this season to a .270/.422/.587 line that included five doubles, five home runs and 11 RBI in 19 games at High-A San Jose and his stock was on the rise before he suffered a knee injury that could keep him sidelined for up to six weeks.
While the counting stats were nice, the most promising sign from Ramos prior to the injury was a healthy spike in his walk rate (6.5 to 16.9 percent) coupled with a slight dip in his strikeout rate (25.4 to 24.1 percent).
While he recovers from his injury, Giants fans will continue to dream on his future patrolling the outfield at Oracle Park and hitting in the middle of the lineup.
With that forward-thinking viewpoint in mind, it’s worth taking a look back at one notable MLB comparison for Ramos that was made back in 2017.
AZL Giants manager Hector Borg likened Ramos to Yoenis Cespedes during his impressive run through rookie ball back in 2017, according to William Boor of MLB.com, after he crushed a tape-measure home run:
"“That homer reminded me of Cespedes. I remember, I was coaching third base for the Toros [del Este], Cespedes played for Aguilas [Cibaenas] and I remember, Cespedes, he hit it over the [back wall] in left field in Santiago. And when I saw Heliot hit that ball, right away I went, ‘Man that reminds me of Cespedes’ homer in the Dominican.”"
The injury bug has taken its toll in recent season, but there was a time not long ago when Cespedes was one of the most feared sluggers in all of baseball.
In other words, it was high praise at the time.
Both players have plus bat speed, huge raw power and impressive strength packed into their somewhat undersized frames.
If a few years from now, Ramos is a perennial 30-homer threat at the MLB level like Cespedes was in his prime, Giants fans will be perfectly content.