Given the shortened spring training, the SF Giants coaching staff has been aggressive in trimming the roster in preparation for the regular season. On Monday, a pair of top prospects were notified that they would not be breaking camp with the club.
SF Giants option a pair of top prospects to Triple-A
Outfield prospect Heliot Ramos and pitching prospect Sean Hjelle were optioned to Triple-A, per the team's transaction log. Given that the outfield alignment and starting rotation are both relatively stable, the chances of either one making the roster were slim.
34 players on the 40-man roster remain in camp, so the Opening Day roster can be predicted with good accuracy at this point.
Ramos was originally drafted by the Giants in the first round of the 2017 draft out of the Leadership Christian Academy in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico. He has been moved aggressively up the farm system, reaching as high as Triple-A in 2021.
However, the 22-year-old outfield prospect still needs seasoning in the minors. He slashed .237/.323/.432 (107 wRC+) with 10 home runs and 26 RBI in 266 plate appearances in Double-A before earning a midseason promotion to the Sacramento River Cats.
However, Triple-A proved to be a difficult challenge for Ramos as he registered a .272/.323/.399 (80 wRC+) with four home runs, 30 runs scored, and 30 RBI in 229 plate appearances with the River Cats. He struggled to control the strike zone as he posted a 6.6 percent walk rate against a 28.4 percent strikeout rate.
Hjelle had a similar season to Ramos as he began the year in Double-A before receiving a midseason promotion to Triple-A. The 6-foot-11 righty generated a 3.15 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 9.5 K/9, and a 3.63 SO.W ratio in 14 starts with the Richmond Flying Squirrels.
His adjustment to Triple-A hitting was challenging, posting 5.74 ERA, 1.80 WHIP, 5.9 K/9, and a 1.21 SO/W rate in 10 starts with the River Cats. There was a noticeable dip in his strikeout rate, so that is a trend to monitor as the new season begins.
That said, he continued to get a healthy number of ground balls as he posted a ground ball rate above 50 percent across both levels last season.
Neither player was expected to make the Opening Day roster, but the front office tends to leverage the entirety of the 40-man roster. At some point, both should debut with the Giants in 2022 but beginning the year in Triple-A could be a positive step in their respective development.