It didn’t take many days of Spring Training for Heliot Ramos to become one of the hottest topics on the San Francisco Giants. Part of it is how wildly athletic Ramos looks relative to many players in the Giants camp. Part of it is starting the preseason hitting 3-5, and looking entirely in control at the plate.
And part of it — most of it, perhaps — is the confidence that Ramos has publicly put forth.
Ramos — the nearly unanimous No. 3 prospect in the Giants farm — didn’t mince words when discussing the belief he has in his readiness, telling reporters this week that, “I’m ready. I can’t wait. 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.”
Let’s make one thing clear: Ramos will not make the Opening Day roster. No matter what he does over the next month, he has no path towards being on the roster when the Giants visit the Seattle Mariners on April 1. He’s 21, and the Giants already have more than eneough Opening Day-caliber outfielders.
“But what if he hits the stitches off the ball?” you ask. That would be great! But Joey Bart hit the stitches off of the ball last spring/summer, in a year where the Giants only reliable catcher option had opted out, and the Giants still chose to start the season with Tyler Heineman and Rob Brantly.
No, Ramos will start the year in the Minor Leagues, which don’t begin until a month after MLB season begins. The question then becomes, will we see Ramos in 2021? And if so, will it be in a significant role?
There are a few reasons for, and a few reasons against.
For: He plays his way into it
Farhan Zaidi has been fairly open about his philosophy with prospects. The Giants are not going to fast track players for fast track’s sake, but they will give them the opportunity to accelerate through the system. They won’t be hyper conservative and hold players back.
The Giants may have a lot of quality outfield options, but Mike Yastrzemski may be their only star talent. If Ramos makes AAA pitchers look like pitching machines, the Giants won’t hold him back.
Against: Damaged development
Bart had just 87 AA plate appearances — and none at AAA — when the Giants called him up last year. And he looked overmatched, striking out 41 times in 111 plate appearances. That led to a pretty scary comment from Fangraphs’ Eric Longenhagen:
Is Bart gonna Zunino? The synchronicity is uncanny. A college catcher, whose profile is driven by power and defense, goes in the top five but is rushed to the big leagues before his bat is ready, which has potential long-term consequences for his upside.
Ramos has roughly the same number of AA plate appearances (106) as Bart, and exactly the same number of AAA plate appearances (0). If facing elevated competition risks stunting Ramos’ develop rather than feeding it, the Giants will steer clear.
For: The Giants need someone in center field
Ramos still projects to be a corner outfielder when all is said and done, but he’s convinced that he can play a solid center field for now. Do the Giants have a solid center fielder? They seem comfortable putting Yastrzemski and Mauricio Dubón out there, but will they still feel that way in July?
It’s hard to see the Giants calling up Ramos out of need, but it could at least play a factor if things are looking grim.
Against: There’s no room
The Giants have Yastrzemski, Dubón, Darin Ruf, Austin Slater, Alex Dickerson, and LaMonte Wade Jr. They have a lot of infielders who might play in the outfield. They have Luis Alexander Basabe, Steven Duggar, Jaylin Davis, and Joe McCarthy waiting in the taxi squad wings. Zaidi will be hitting the waiver wire and the telephones with regularity.
Even if Ramos excels, the Giants just might not feel the need to bring him up and risk a rookie slump. After all, the Giants were third in the NL in outfield wRC+ a year ago. It’s not like it’s a dire situation out on the grass.
A Ramos debut would be all kinds of fun. But who knows if we’ll get to see it this year.
Will Heliot Ramos play in the Majors this season?
This poll is closed
Yes, a lot
Yes, a little