Giants

How Heliot Ramos compares to other Giants who dominated in San Jose

How Heliot Ramos compares to other Giants who dominated in San Jose

LOS ANGELES -- Heliot Ramos spent his Tuesday night about an hour away from Dodger Stadium. Ramos, the Giants' No. 2 prospect, started in center field in the California League All-Star Game, held at San Manuel Stadium in San Bernardino.

The road to the big leagues will be a significantly longer trip, but it definitely doesn't look the way it did before the season. While most in the organization still view Ramos as more of a 2021 option, he has accelerated the timeframe with a huge first half in San Jose. 

Asked about Ramos recently, manager Bruce Bochy pointed out that this organization has a history of fast-tracking top hitting prospects. 

"We've shown in the past that if guys are making progress -- you go back to Pablo and Buster -- we'll bring them up on a fast pace," Bochy said. 

Buster Posey played 80 games in San Jose in 2009 and made a September cameo that same season; he was a big league starter the next year. Pablo Sandoval played 102 games in San Jose in 2007 and 68 in 2008, the season he ended up in the big leagues. Brandon Belt is another example on the big league roster; he destroyed the California League for 77 games in 2010 and made the Opening Day roster the next spring. 

Ramos, still just 19, is a bit of a different case. Given his age and his ups-and-downs last season in Augusta, the Giants expected him to have a lengthy run in San Jose. He still might, but his first-half numbers compare favorably to others who were moved quickly. 

Ramos has a .389 on-base percentage and .553 slugging percentage in San Jose. Posey was at .428 and .540, Sandoval at .353 and .528, and Belt at .492 and .628 (he seriously destroyed that league, which is part of why expectations have always been so high). By wRC+, Ramos (161) fits right in line with what Posey (157) and Sandoval (163 in his second season there) did in San Jose. 

The 2017 first-rounder has eight homers in 37 games and has improved his plate discipline, nearly doubling his walk rate year-over-year and cutting his strikeout rate by a couple of percentage points. That was an early sign that Ramos was ready to break out

"That's really exciting and that's obviously a point that's been emphasized with him and is a point for us in player development overall," president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said earlier this season. 

[RELATED: Watch Heliot Ramos hit two-run homer]

Zaidi has a desire to move top prospects quickly and challenge them, and while Ramos was slowed by a knee injury in May, he has joined Joey Bart as Giants minor leaguers who look ready to be pushed. 

"I thought once he got into the flow of professional ball he would get on a faster pace," Bochy said. "That's what's happening now. We got a chance to see him this spring and he's got some huge potential. With that bat speed, this kid can do some damage."

Mayor London Breed clears way for Giants' June return to Oracle Park

Mayor London Breed clears way for Giants' June return to Oracle Park

The Giants expect the construction of their new bullpens to be finished in the next week or so. It might not be much longer before players are allowed to throw off the mounds. 

San Francisco mayor London Breed outlined new reopening rules on Thursday afternoon, and there was good news for professional sports teams. As part of a phase that will go into effect before June 15, professional sports teams can practice in the city of San Francisco with an approved plan. The city is targeting June 15 for the next phase, which states in part, "Professional sports games, tournaments and other entertainment venues allowed with no spectators with approved plans."

The players and owners are still far apart in negotiations, but if they can strike a deal that gets baseball back in July -- the target is to get games back by the July 4 holiday -- the Giants will be cleared to come home. Internally, they are still discussing the next steps and what a Spring Training 2.0 might look like. They're trying to decide between training at Scottsdale Stadium and doing so at Oracle Park, and the current lean is said to be returning to San Francisco.

It's not quite that easy, of course. The Giants would have to make significant changes to the structure at Oracle Park, expanding clubhouse space and finding new areas within the ballpark's footprint to train while following social distancing rules. They're hashing all of that now, and while they were never all that concerned about the restrictions in San Francisco, it certainly is a sigh of relief that the city is officially moving forward with reopening plans. 

[RELATED: Field to Table: How to make Oracle Park-style garlic fries]

The Giants have quietly reopened one of their other facilities in the meantime. Players who remained in the Scottsdale area have been allowed to work out at the ballpark there, although social distancing is practiced and there are limits on how many people can be in the building at one time. The vast majority of the team remains spread out across the country. 

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

How Giants fans' support impressed Mike Yastrzemski, Mauricio Dubon

How Giants fans' support impressed Mike Yastrzemski, Mauricio Dubon

Mike Yastrzemski and Mauricio Dubon entered this season as two of the more popular Giants, but a year ago at this time they were in extremely different situations. Yastrzemski was just getting his feet wet in his first week in the big leagues. Dubon was playing in Triple-A for the Milwaukee Brewers. 

They both got shots to grab a starting role later in the 2019 season with the Giants, and both did enough that they were going to be in Gabe Kapler's Opening Day lineup, possibly right at the top. Life changed quickly for Yastrzemski and Dubon, and on this week's episode of "Chalk Talk at Home," they talked about how far they've come. Both said interactions with the Giants fan base stood out early in their big league careers. 

"I struck out my first at-bat and they were still cheering for me walking back," Yastrzemski  "You don't get that too often, where it's a big market, big city with a huge history of winning, and usually fans demand excellence. The fans are so great out there that they're just exited for somebody to get an opportunity to come help the team and they're going to support you."

Dubon came along three months later, but he already knew all about Oracle Park's supportive fan. He grew up as one after moving to Honduras to Sacramento as a teenager. Still, Dubon found himself surprised by early interactions. 

"I was just trying to play baseball and the next thing I know I'm walking down the streets going to the field and a lot of people are honking in the car and saying hi to me, and I had no idea how they recognized me," he said. "It's pretty amazing how the Giants fans are."

Last year's rookie breakouts are training in Nashville and Miami, respectively, and both hope to be back at Oracle Park soon. MLB is angling for a July return, although there are plenty of hurdles. Whenever the sport resumes, it'll do so without fans, which might not be the adjustment you would expect.

Yastrzemski said he's able to get so focused at the plate that he never hears any noise anyway. The outfield may get weird, though. 

"You're used to having to like try and scream at the guy next to you to try and get his attention," he said. "You can whisper now."

[RELATED: Learn how to make Oracle Park's garlic fries]

Yastrzemski said it's going to be interesting to see how guys react, because some really feed off the energy coming from the seats. Dubon certainly qualifies as one of those players, and he said the empty stadium "is going to be weird."

"I'm a guy that feeds off that," he said. "I've just got to get used to it, I've just got to get used to not having anybody. I played in rookie ball here in Florida with literally nobody and it's going to be pretty much like that with the best players in the world."

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]