Giants

Giants No. 2 prospect Heliot Ramos showing his potential in Puerto Rico

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MiLB.com

Giants No. 2 prospect Heliot Ramos showing his potential in Puerto Rico

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. 

[RELATED: Sabean sees 'very bright futures' for Giants' top two prospects]

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. 

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.

How Sean Hjelle impressed Farhan Zaidi in Giants spring training debut

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USATSI

How Sean Hjelle impressed Farhan Zaidi in Giants spring training debut

It's easy to pick Giants prospect Sean Hjelle out of the crowd, but the 6-foot-11 pitcher stood out for other reasons over the weekend. 

Hjelle touched 96 mph on the radar gun in a perfect inning during San Francisco's first spring-training win Sunday, closing the Giants' victory over the split-squad A's. With three pitches, Hjelle caught Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi's attention.

"[He's] already an intimidating presence out there on the mound, [6-11] with a downhill plane," Zaidi said on KNBR's "Murph & Mac Show" on Monday, "and I love that he just came in and threw strikes."

The 22-year-old finished the 2019 season in Double-A with the Richmond Flying Squirrels, posting a 6.04 ERA in 25 1/3 innings in five August appearances. He likely will spend a lot of time in Richmond in 2020, but Hjelle can make a strong case for an eventual call-up this spring. 

His first appearance went about as well as he could have asked for, but the Giants will monitor Hjelle -- and everyone else in camp -- in two key areas: Walks and strikeouts. Zaidi said strikeout-to-walk ratio "actually winds up being a little bit predictive" of regular-season performance, unlike most spring-training statistics. 

"If you're a pitcher and you've got a 6 or 7 ERA but you strike out 15 guys and walk one, it usually means that's a good springboard for you going into the season," Zaidi said. "And same on the hitting side: Guys that control the strike zone in spring training, that usually suggests that those guys are going to get off to a good start and have a good season."

[RELATED: Find out where some ex-Giants have ended up this spring]

Hjelle will need more than just a strong strikeout-to-walk ratio in the spring to make -- and eventually stick with -- the Giants. 

But early in spring training, he has turned the right head by impressing Zaidi. 

Archie Bradley praises D-backs GM for Madison Bumgarner alter ego comments

Archie Bradley praises D-backs GM for Madison Bumgarner alter ego comments

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Nobody at the Diamondbacks' spring training facility had uttered the name "Madison Bumgarner," despite seeing him numerous times.

He goes by Mason Saunders for now. That is his alter ego after all -- the one he uses to win cash prizes at rodeo events.

The sports media world had a field day when the information on MadBum's alias surfaced, but D-backs general manager Mike Hazen had his back.

"Madison is a grown man and we know he's committed to helping us achieve our goals as a team," Hazen told media on Monday. 

Arizona pitcher Archie Bradley said that resonated with him as well.

"It's great. I personally have a lot of respect for Mike Hazen, but that was something I was actually talking to CC Sabathia yesterday," Bradley told NBC Sports Bay Area on Tuesday. "You're seeing this new wave where guys aren't afraid to showcase the other side of their life. I think there's kind of been this build of 'You just have to be a baseball player.' LeBron started with 'More Than an Athlete,' I think guys are kind of catching on."

He also loves the fact that MadBum now is on his team instead of facing him as much as he did during their NL West matchups when Bumgarner was on the Giants. MadBum has made a huge impression on the 27-year-old.

"He just raises everyone's level of awareness and preparation," Bradley said. "When you win a World Series, that holds a lot of weight, it puts your name in bold font. You know, Madison Bumgarner is a big-time name, not only because of his talent level, but because of how he competes, but how he's won."

"When you add a guy like that who is very old school and very hard-nosed, you kind of perk up a little bit."

[RELATED: MadBum's young teammates ready to see what he's about]

Bradley said MadBum, after winning multiple World Series championships, is bringing that mentality to his new team in Phoenix. 

"This is a guy that has not only done it but is vocalizing how he wants to do it here."