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Giants' No. 2 prospect Ramos must wait a bit

@mi_guardado
February 19, 2020

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- When the Giants released their list of non-roster invitees to Spring Training last month, it was a mild surprise to see 2017 first-round Draft pick Heliot Ramos excluded from the group. Ramos, a 20-year-old outfielder who is ranked as the Giants’ No. 2 prospect by MLB Pipeline,

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- When the Giants released their list of non-roster invitees to Spring Training last month, it was a mild surprise to see 2017 first-round Draft pick Heliot Ramos excluded from the group.

Ramos, a 20-year-old outfielder who is ranked as the Giants’ No. 2 prospect by MLB Pipeline, reached Double-A Richmond last year along with fellow first-rounder Joey Bart, who is back in big league camp for the second consecutive spring. The pair grew close last season as they rose through the organization’s Minor League ranks together, and Bart said he felt Ramos’ absence when he reported to Scottsdale Stadium earlier this month.

“He’s really good,” said Bart, 23. “I wish he was here.”

Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said there were a couple of “extenuating circumstances” that led the Giants to extend an invitation to Bart while omitting Ramos this year. Bart is a catcher, a position that is always in demand during Spring Training. The Giants also wanted to give Bart the opportunity to be here last spring to learn from Bruce Bochy, a former big league catcher.

“It’s different with catchers, fairly or not,” Zaidi said.

Some clubs have a policy of automatically inviting first-round Draft picks to Major League Spring Training, but the Giants do not. Ramos will report to Minor League camp this spring, but the Giants are open to bringing him over to the Major League side for some Cactus League games, which they did last year.

“I think even once they get going in Minor League camp, he may be a guy that we try to get over here,” Zaidi said. “We haven’t decided that; I’m just not ruling it out.”

Ramos batted .290 with an .850 OPS and 16 home runs over 102 games last year between Class A Advanced San Jose and Double-A Richmond, though he missed a month after spraining a left knee ligament in April. He hit only .185 (12-for-65) with one home run and 23 strikeouts over 17 games in the Arizona Fall League, but Bart said he thought Ramos was hurt by the “robo umps” -- the automated ball-strike system that was tested in AFL games for the first time last year.

“That kid is very special,” Bart said. “I wouldn’t say that about a lot of guys. If I see a guy that’s really good, it really opens my eyes. … He’s really good. He’s really strong. He hits balls so far and so hard, and he doesn’t really know what he’s doing.”

Bart and Ramos could open the season together at Triple-A Sacramento, and the prospect of the two developing into franchise cornerstones has started to generate excitement in San Francisco. Bart appears to be on more of a fast track to the Majors, but Zaidi said he believes Ramos has the potential to debut with the Giants in 2020, as well.

“We had guys last year work their way through two or three levels of the Minor Leagues, so it’s certainly something he could do,” Zaidi said. “Both with him and Joey, injuries kind of slowed them down a little bit and maybe backed up their timetables for when they could potentially get to the big leagues this year. But we talked about promoting guys aggressively when they kind of perform up to levels that warrant promotion, and that will be the case for those guys.”

Maria Guardado covers the Giants for MLB.com. She previously covered the Angels from 2017-18. Follow her on Twitter.