SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Last month, Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi and manager Gabe Kapler were asked which Giants prospects they were most looking forward to seeing at Spring Training this year.
Zaidi and Kapler both mentioned Heliot Ramos, a 21-year-old outfielder who was the club’s first-round Draft pick in 2017 out of Puerto Rico. Ramos, who is ranked No. 82 on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 Prospects list, reached Double-A Richmond as a teenager in '19, but his path to the big leagues stalled when the Minor League season was cancelled as a result of the coronavirus pandemic last year.
"He was probably among our top prospects as hurt as anyone by the lost season because he was on a path to potentially playing in the big leagues in 2020," Zaidi tellingly said. "I just know he's motivated and how highly we all think of him from an organizational standpoint. It's going to be fun to see him out there."
After spending last summer at the Giants’ alternate training site in Sacramento, Ramos is now navigating his first big league camp and is eager to show that he’ll be ready to make the jump to the Majors at some point in 2021.
"I’m ready,” Ramos said during a Zoom call with reporters on Tuesday. “I can’t wait. I feel like I’m going to do everything I can to get there, and I feel like I deserve it. I feel like I can play in the big leagues."
Ramos batted .290 with an .850 OPS and 16 home runs over 102 games between Class A Advanced San Jose and Double-A Richmond in 2019. He had the opportunity to face some more advanced pitching in Sacramento and said he is focused on refining his plate discipline and honing his mental skills.
“Mentally, I’ve grown a lot,” Ramos said. “I’ve learned how to calm myself when in the box. I feel like I grew, and I matured a little bit more.”
Ramos has matured physically as well. He said he’s filled out to 230 pounds, which has led most scouts to believe that he’ll outgrow center field and eventually move to a corner. Still, the Giants are keeping him in center for now and believe that he has the tools to stay there.
“I’ve seen quite a bit of Ramos in center,” Kapler said last month. “He's fast enough. He's athletic enough to handle center field. I think what we want to do from a development perspective is give our players a chance to develop in that premium position, and then ultimately, at some point, if they need to move to one of the corners, they will. Right now, we're thinking about Ramos as a guy who can play all three positions but is very much a center fielder. We’ll adjust accordingly if necessary. He shows all of the tools needed to be a center fielder at the big league level.”
Ramos said his preference is to stay in the middle of the diamond, which would likely represent his fastest path to the Majors. Mauricio Dubón is the incumbent there right now, but the Giants don’t have a lot of true center-field options behind him.
“I know I can play all three, but I personally want to stay in center field,” Ramos said. “I want to stay in center field, and I’ll do whatever it takes to stay there.”
Ramos will likely open the season at Double-A Richmond, as the Giants plan to be conservative with their placement of prospects to start the season, but Zaidi has said they won’t hesitate to aggressively promote young players if they show they’re ready to advance to the next level. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Ramos debut in San Francisco before the end of the 2021 season, a possibility he’s already begun to envision.
“I can’t stop thinking about it,” Ramos said. “That’s my dream. That’s what I want to do.”