SF Giants prospects: Midseason 2021 rankings
3. Heliot Ramos, OF
Highest Level: Triple-A (Sacramento)
Acquired: Draft (2017)
Future-Value Grade: 50
Since the SF 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.
The Reds drafted Matt McLain as a draft-eligible sophomore out of UCLA this summer with the 17th overall pick. A great athlete with experience at shortstop and center field, McLain profiles all-around the diamond with the potential to be an above-average hitter as well. He hit .333/.434/.579 this spring at UCLA with as many walks as strikeouts (34).
Ramos is a month younger than McLain and is holding his own with the Giants Triple-A affiliate.
In 2019, Ramos broke out at High-A San Jose. His early-season performance was one of the best in recent history for someone of his age at that level and came alongside increased walks and decreased punchouts. 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.
After an abysmal Arizona Fall League, Ramos spent 2020 at the alternate site in Sacramento before dominating at big-league spring training this year. Ramos’ fantastic performance had some wondering if he’d start the season at Triple-A, but the Giants were cautious with most of their assignments and conservatively sent Ramos back to Richmond.
His impressive spring training numbers failed to translate to the minor-league season, but Ramos held his own with .237/.323/.423 line alongside slightly improved strikeout and walk rates from his Double-A stint in 2019. At that point, the Giants gave him the call to Triple-A Sacramento, where he continued his solid play, hitting .263/.333/.412 in the far more hitter-friendly league.
Ramos’ minor-league career has been a story of alternating breakouts and down years. Ramos won’t turn 22 until September 7th and is already fitting in at the highest level of the minor leagues. While the Giants will probably go into 2022 expecting Ramos to play the full season at Triple-A, I would not be surprised if he forces their hand with a fantastic April and May. Ramos will already be on the 40-man roster since he has to be protected from the Rule 5 draft this offseason anyway.
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. He’s strong enough to still produce above-average power without selling out, but that may ultimately keep him from becoming an All-Star.
Almost everyone I spoke to believes Ramos will be a useful big-league player. He has begun exhibiting some platoon splits, which might lead him towards an Austin Slater-like floor. He’s followed a similar trajectory to Blue Jays outfielder Randal Grichuk throughout his career, but Grichuk’s sold out to hit 25-30 home runs a year in a way I don’t see Ramos doing. Instead, I expect Ramos’ to land somewhere between Enrique Hernandez and Avisail Garcia at the plate, consistently generating 15-20 homers a year with a .260/.330/.460 triple-slash alongside passable defense in center field or above-average defense in a corner.
Yet, even then, given his performance and youth, I still wonder if Ramos has some hidden upside that we just aren’t seeing because he’s been so consistently challenged. Back in 2019, I wrote that Ramos had a ceiling around Yoenis Cespedes’ peak and that’s still plausible. While Cespedes was a far purer hitter than Ramos has been up to this point, Cespedes didn’t make his big-league debut until he was 26. It would obviously be towards the high end of possible outcomes for Ramos to end up hitting .280 with 30-homer power, but it’s far from unforeseeable given his rapid ascent through the minors.