SF Giants top prospects: No. 4 — OF Heliot Ramos
Highest Level: Double-A (Richmond)
Acquired: Draft (2017)
Future-Value Grade: 50+
Since the Giants drafted Heliot Ramos in the first round of the 2017 MLB draft, he’s been one of the most difficult prospects for me to evaluate. It’s pretty easy to explain why.
Matt McLain is considered one of the best position players available in the upcoming draft. A draft-eligible sophomore from UCLA with a pure swing, McLain posted a 1.043 OPS in 2020 before the season’s cancellation, and he’s looked even better in the first games of this Spring. If he maintains this level of offensive production, McLain will likely end up going in the top five of this year’s draft and find himself creeping onto top-100 prospect rankings.
Ramos is a month younger than McLain.
In 2019, Ramos broke out at High-A San Jose. His early-season performance was one of the best in recent history and came alongside increased walks and decreased punch outs. Ramos was promoted alongside Joey Bart and Sean Hjelle to Double-A Richmond. While Bart exploded in the Eastern League, Ramos’ performance failed to keep pace.
His final .242/.321/.421 line with the Flying Squirrels was nothing to scoff at given his youth. His strikeout rate jumped to a concerning 31.1%, but his walk-rate maintained the gains at High-A. FanGraphs wRC+, which adjusted for the pitcher-friendly environment in the Eastern League, evaluated his production to be 19 percent better than a league-average player.
As Ramos has moved closer to the major leagues, his volatility has begun to narrow. I used to describe his frame as reminiscent of an SEC running back or safety. Now, he looks more like an inside linebacker. That maturation has finally convinced me that he’s more likely to end up in an outfield corner than center despite his excellent instincts.
He still has plus power potential but generates power more from his body than his hands, which forces him to commit to pitches earlier and exposes him to off-speed pitches and breaking balls. Luckily he’s strong enough to still produce above-average power without selling out. I think he has a fairly good chance to pair a league-average hit tool with above-average power and outfield defense. Yet, even then, given his advanced performance and youth, I still wonder if we’re missing some hidden upside.
I’d expect Ramos to start 2021 back at Double-A, but I would not be surprised to see him quickly promoted to Triple-A with a strong start. The Giants have remained steadfast in their belief in Ramos since they drafted him. Assuming all goes well, he could make his MLB debut at the end of 2021 with a chance to play a prominent role in 2022.