When the Giants took 17-year-old Heliot Ramos with the No. 19 overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft, he made a bold prediction: He said he expected to wear a Giants uniform at AT&T Park in three years.
“I know it’s hard, but that’s my dream,” Ramos said. “I know I’ve got to work hard for that.”
That same year, he looked to make good on his word by dominating the Arizona Rookie League. Not even old enough to buy a lighter, Ramos was on fire in the desert. Before being sidelined with a concussion, the center fielder hit .348 with a 1.049 OPS, six home runs, six triples, 11 doubles and 10 stolen bases.
Expectations understandably were sky high for Ramos after his debut season, and he even entered a game for the Giants big league club in spring training. The team felt no need for him to go to Short Season Salem-Keizer, so he began the 2018 season Class A for the Augusta GreenJackets. But Ramos quickly found out the South Atlantic League is much different than the Arizona Rookie League.
In 124 games for the GreenJackets, Ramos slashed .245/.313/.396 with 11 home runs, eight triples, 24 doubles and eight stolen bases. The troubling stats were his low on-base percentage and his 136 strikeouts, which clearly correlate together. He also was caught stealing seven times, one less than his successful attempts.
The good news is Ramos finished the season strong in his final full month, and at 18 years old, he was in the top five of youngest players in the league. Ramos hit .282 in 26 games in August, his best batting average month of the year, and he had a .788 OPS, also a best for a full month in 2018.
That strong August has followed him to the Puerto Rican Winter Leagues. Through 10 games, Ramos, now 19 years old, is batting .281 with one home run, five doubles and a .531 slugging percentage. The downside is his low on-base percentage (.303) has followed him, as he has six strikeouts and no walks.
Even when he's struggled at times, though, and struck out at a higher rate than the organization would like, the potential always has shined, starting with his power. In his age-17 and age-18 seasons, he combined for 17 home runs in 159 games.
OF Heliot Ramos showing off power so far in Liga de Béisbol Profesional Roberto Clemente (Puerto Rico Winter League): 6-15, 1 HR, 4 2B, 2 K.— GPT (@giantsprospects) November 23, 2018
Video of HR (off Phillies AA prospect Trevor Bettencourt): pic.twitter.com/ahiumNhkoG
Listed at 6-foot-2 and 185 pounds, Ramos truly has five-tool potential at his young age. His speed and power catch your eyes right away, and while he's built like a running back, he can track down fly balls with ease in center field.
Ramos was nearly untouchable last offseason, and it's not hard to see why. With Farhan Zaidi now at the helm, things can change for the Giants, but they haven't had a prospect with this kind of athleticism and upside in a long time.