This longtime top prospect is playing like an All-Star

July 2nd, 2024

Airplanes have never been ’ favorite thing.

But when the outfielder was called up from Triple-A Sacramento to join the Giants at Coors Field in early May, he was willing to make an exception.

“I don’t love flying, but as long as it’s to be in the big leagues, I’ll take it,” Ramos said.

On May 8 -- his first game of the year in the Majors -- Ramos delivered an RBI single in his very first at-bat in the Giants’ 8-6 win over the Rockies. He had two hits in three of his next four starts and recorded at least one hit in 11 of his first 14 games.

Pretty quickly, Ramos had made it clear that this time was different.

In 34 games in 2022 and 2023 -- across eight stints in the Majors, none lasting longer than two weeks -- Ramos posted a .158/.220/.250 slash line. But since his 2024 debut in Colorado, the one-time top prospect has been one of MLB’s best young hitters and has made himself a true candidate for the 2024 All-Star Game.

“Everybody knew it was getting there,” Giants infielder said. “It was just a matter of when he figured it out. The league is seeing that he can figure it out now.”

Here’s how Ramos has turned things around in his stellar start to 2024.

A long time coming
A staple of MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 Prospects list, Ramos has long held the promise the Giants are seeing this season.

The Puerto Rico product cracked the Top 100 in 2018 (No. 63), 2019 (No. 92), 2020 (No. 65) and 2021 (No. 81). Praised for his bat speed, his quickness on the basepaths and his powerful right-handed bat, Ramos initially showed why the Giants selected him 19th overall in the 2017 MLB Draft. In his first season of Rookie ball, Ramos hit .348 with six homers, 10 steals and 27 RBIs in just 35 games.

Things went back and forth a bit for Ramos from there. A subpar 2018 in Single-A (.709 OPS) was followed by a strong 2019 (.850 OPS) between High-A and Double-A. But the 2020 Minor League season was canceled due to COVID-19, and Ramos hit just .254 with a .740 OPS between Double-A and Triple-A in 2021.

In 2022 with Triple-A Sacramento, Ramos -- still just 22 years old -- posted a .227/.305/.349 slash line. He went back and forth between the Minors and Majors, earning four callups to the Giants but recording just 20 at-bats across nine games. Ramos had only two hits all season, both singles. He disappeared from prospect lists.

Giants manager Bob Melvin acknowledged it can be difficult for players like Ramos to find success right away, especially when at-bats are limited early on.

“It’s very hard, and typically you come up here as a younger player and you don’t get an everyday opportunity,” Melvin said.

Ramos got a little more playing time in 2023, starting 17 of the 25 contests he played in. Still, his longest stretch with San Francisco before being optioned was only nine games. Overall, Ramos hit .179 with one home run and a .537 OPS.

“It’s always hard, but it is what it is,” Ramos said of splitting time between the Majors and Minors. “Every time you come up, it doesn’t matter if it’s one game, three games. You will want to perform, and you want to show that you can.”

Figuring things out
In 2024, Ramos has shown he’s more than capable of performing at a high level.

If his .294/.368/.508 slash line entering Tuesday weren’t proof enough, just check out a Statcast page that shows Ramos’ batted-ball data is elite.

Ramos’ Statcast ranks, 2024
53.0% hard-hit rate (95th percentile)
16.5% barrel rate (97th percentile)
.525 expected slugging percentage (93rd percentile)
92.5 mph average exit velocity (93rd percentile)

Ramos’ .366 expected wOBA -- a metric accounting for quality of contact, strikeouts and walks -- puts him in the top 10 percent of qualified MLB hitters.

“Every time he hits it, I feel like it’s really hard,” Giants catcher said. “He’s putting up good at-bats, not chasing a lot, taking his walks. It’s been really cool to watch.”

The young outfielder has shown the ability to hit the ball to all fields, with 42.1% of his batted balls classified as “straightaway” and one of the lowest pull rates in MLB.

“That’s who I am,” Ramos said. “I’m not trying. That’s just how my swing path works. I’m honestly just trying to get a good pitch to hit and just trying to hit it hard.”

He’s certainly hitting the ball hard. Ramos’ elite contact metrics are in part due to an average bat speed of 75.5 mph, tied with Dodgers star for 13th in all of MLB. His fast-swing rate (percentage of swings at 75+ mph) cracks the top 10.

The results Ramos has seen in 2024 are simply a testament to the skills that made him a first-round Draft pick.

“Everybody knew it was getting there,” Villar said. “It was just a matter of when he figured it out. The league is seeing that he can figure it out now.”

Ramos said his newfound success isn’t due to tweaked mechanics or a refined approach. He credited a positive mentality and consistent work ethic -- things he hopes to maintain over the grind of a long season that reached its halfway point last week.

“I’ll get tired for sure, but it is what it is,” Ramos said. “Nothing can destroy the mindset, obviously.”

Seizing the moment
Ramos hasn’t slowed down yet.

The 24-year-old has remained productive as he nears two months with the Giants, starting every single one of San Francisco’s games since May 10 and moving into the top third of the batting order in June.

According to Melvin, Ramos’ sustained playing time is simply a factor of his excellent production.

“When he first got here, we weren’t sure if he was going to play every day,” Melvin said. “He’s taken advantage of that, and that’s always what you try to imply to younger players: ‘Look, it might not be every day for you right away, but if you go out there and you perform, you’re going to get more opportunities.’ He’s kind of the epitome of that.”

That’s not just at the plate: Ramos has also been an above-average defender in the outfield by Outs Above Average and arm value. Since early June, he’s been the Giants’ everyday center fielder, a position Ramos doesn’t take lightly. He was thrilled to play center and wear the No. 24 jersey on June 24 in memory of all-time great , who died June 18 at age 93.

“It’s a great opportunity,” Ramos said of manning center field for San Francisco. “It’s an honor, because obviously, you know who played center field for them back in the day. It’s good to feel that they can trust me in center field and that they know that I can do good up there.”

What Ramos brings to the table both as a hitter and as a fielder has quickly made him one of the Giants’ most valuable players. Ramos’ 2.4 Baseball-Reference Wins Above Replacement rank third on his team, behind only (3.1 bWAR) and (2.5).

No Giant advanced to Phase 2 of the 2024 MLB All-Star vote, but Ramos has a good chance to be San Francisco’s representative in the Midsummer Classic when all is said and done.

“You look at the numbers and how consistent he’s been through the period of time that he’s been here,” Melvin said. “He’s playing All-Star quality baseball even though he hasn’t been here the entire year.”

Ramos has surely come a long way from going back and forth between Triple-A and the Majors, hoping to stick with the Giants despite a lack of consistent at-bats to prove himself.

It wasn’t easy, but in 2024, Ramos has shown he should be here to stay.

“Things have to work out in your favor for you to get that opportunity to showcase yourself,” Villar said. “Once it’s there, it’s just seizing the moment. He’s doing a really good job of that right now, so he’s obviously helping the team win a lot of ballgames.”