How No. 5 prospect Ramos used rap as language tool

May 17th, 2024

This story was excerpted from Scott Merkin’s White Sox Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

NEW YORK -- has never met Lil Baby.

But the accomplished rapper from Atlanta, Ga., has been a contributing force to getting the third baseman to where he is today after Ramos came to the United States from Cuba to play baseball. No, Lil Baby doesn’t have some instructional baseball video to help Ramos sharpen his skills defensively or at the plate.

Instead, it’s Lil Baby’s song lyrics aiding Ramos in learning English. It’s a similar story told by Jose Quintana to during Spring Training 2017 in relation to learning English through watching the Tonight Show, eventually earning Quintana a guest appearance from host Jimmy Fallon.

“I just heard one song and I said ‘Oh, I like it.’ I just keep listening to him,” Ramos told me during a recent interview. “He’s one of my favorite American rappers. I listened to a lot of rap from him.”

When Ramos first started listening to Lil Baby, he could understand what the rapper was talking about, but he couldn’t really speak English. Since he’s gained a strong comprehension of the language, Ramos has been able to pick up the songs kind of quick and smiled when adding he can now rap a couple.

“That really helps you a lot,” Ramos said. “You are listening and then you get familiar with the words.

“You probably hear something from the song and then we are talking now, and you say something similar, and I say ‘Oh, I think I remember this word from somewhere.’ Then you put it together and know.”

Although he’s currently sidelined by left quad tightness, the 22-year-old and No. 5 White Sox prospect, per MLB Pipeline, has been a revelation since joining the big league team on May 4. He’s got good hands at third base and has a .281 average over 10 games since jumping from Double-A Birmingham.

“Very impressed and he deserves it too,” second baseman Nicky Lopez said. “He's as humble as it gets. Speaks unbelievable English for someone who came over from Cuba. He works really, really hard and you can tell a lot of people like him. He's a great addition and he's going to be playing in the big leagues for a really long time."

“For him to come up here and take advantage of opportunities, it’s really awesome,” said infielder Danny Mendick, who Ramos replaced when Mendick went on the injured list with back issues. “That’s what you want to do and that’s what you want other guys to do.”

If given the chance, Ramos would like to see Lil Baby perform. For now, Ramos can credit the rapper long distance for being a part of what he deemed a necessity as a professional baseball player.

“That was something pretty difficult because you go everywhere and you got to order your food, you have to buy something, and you have to express yourself,” Ramos said. “You don’t know how to communicate with other people, and they don’t know what you are saying.

“At restaurants, you have to start pointing to things. That’s kind of difficult. So I had to do something and then I can help me and help everybody around [me]. I decided to learn because you are in this country, you aren’t in Cuba. You have to adapt to the country. It’s really important to learn.”