Heliot Ramos has been the talk of Giants camp this month, particularly after he followed a two-homer game with a mammoth blast to left-center against the Milwaukee Brewers a couple days later. But the bat won't be the only factor as Ramos pushes for his debut this summer.
The Giants are pretty set in the corner outfield spots, even if a regular goes down to injury. But they lack depth in center field, where Mauricio Dubon is the starter but also could see plenty of time at shortstop to help keep Brandon Crawford rested. There isn't all that much ahead of Ramos on the center field depth chart, which is why it was so important that he show this spring that he's an option there and not destined for a corner, as many scouts have said over the years.
Early in camp, manager Gabe Kapler said he felt Ramos had the equipment to stick in center. He hasn't changed his mind after watching the 21-year-old do drills and play in Cactus League games over the last month.
"I'm pretty confident of that," Kapler said of Ramos' ability to play center. "I've watched enough of him in drills and seen the way his body works. A lot of this is going to have to do with, like, can he keep himself in peak physical condition, but right now I see a center fielder. That doesn't mean that he wouldn't move to a corner at some point, but I think he's got the speed, athleticism, explosiveness and instincts to play in center."
That would be a huge boost to the Giants, who prefer to use Dubon in a utility role. Kapler also is confident in Mike Yastrzemski's ability to slide over to center at times and said Austin Slater has looked good out there this spring. LaMonte Wade Jr. and Steven Duggar are other options on the 40-man roster, as well.
Ramos isn't yet part of that group, and he'll begin the season in the minors, with a stint in minor league camp following this extended look with the big league staff. So far, Ramos has done everything asked of him, and he entered play Wednesday with 10 hits in 24 at-bats, including three homers. The Giants rewarded that production by keeping Ramos around Monday when the rest of their top prospects were optioned or reassigned.
Ramos said he's happy with his spring, particularly with the adjustments he has been able to make. He faced the same pitchers every day at the alternate site last summer so it was hard to truly judge his progress, but it's been a different opposing team and multiple opposing pitchers every day this spring, and so far he's thriving.
"Right now it's just (about) adjusting," Ramos said. "It's been really good and I like it. It keeps my mind working and keeps my mind busy and in the game and focused."