Heliot Ramos looks more like a college safety playing football than a center fielder in the minor leagues. From his beard to his build, this isn't your average 19-year-old.
Giants farm director Kyle Haines agrees.
“The physical tools are obviously there," Haines said on Tuesday's Inside The San Jose Giants Podcast.
Ramos, the Giants' first-round pick in the 2017 MLB Draft, is listed at 6-foot-1 and 188 pounds. In person, it appears his muscular build appears even thicker, and at his young age there's still plenty of time for growth. His stature and potential turned the Giants on to draft him No. 19 overall, but it's his growth at the plate this season that has the franchise so excited.
All offseason, Ramos worked on reading off-speed pitches better and laying off balls in the dirt while playing Winter Ball. Last season, he finished with a disappointing .313 on-base percentage. This year, Ramos is up to a .414 on-base percentage and has 11 walks to 13 strikeouts.
His ability to track late movement has stood out to Haines early in the year.
“Those are characteristics that you usually see out of veteran hitters, and that was really encouraging to see that he’s started to acquire that skill," Haines said.
Through 13 games, Ramos is batting .250 with 1.005 OPS for the High-A San Jose Giants. He's tied for the California League lead in home runs with four, is fourth in RBI (nine), fourth in total bases (26) and fourth in OPS.
After starting the season 1-for-17, Ramos has 10 hits in his last 27 at-bats, good for a .370 batting average during that stretch.
“We’ve seen a huge advancement in his approach at the plate and I think that’s why you’ve seen the homers spike up a little bit," Haines said.
It's hard to remember just how young Ramos is. When the Giants drafted him, he was only 17 years old and yet, he made a public goal of wanting to reach the major leagues in three years. Joey Bart is the talk of the Giants' farm system for all the right reasons and appears to be on the fast track to the bigs. But Ramos isn't too far behind.
“He’d be a sophomore in college. He’s two years younger than Joey Bart," Haines reminded us. "We talk about Bart’s fast movement and then you stop and you’re thinking, ‘Hey what a minute. Heliot’s two years younger than what Joey is.’ It’s really encouraging to see … it’s exciting.”
Ramos is the fifth-youngest player in the Cal League. He'll be a teenager all season long. The Giants, and fans alike, are seeing potential turn into production in only his second full season in the minors.