SCOTTSDALE - When Heliot Ramos was introduced at AT&T Park last summer, he said he hoped to be back and in the lineup in three years. After an eye-opening professional debut, Ramos hasn't changed his plans at all. If anything, they have gotten grander. He now hopes second-round pick and close friend Jacob Gonzalez is right there with him.
"Two or three years," Ramos said Thursday, smiling, when asked about his big league plans.
"As soon as possible," Gonzalez added. "We're trying to get up there as soon as possible. But we're going to enjoy the ride."
That ride started on the fast track. Ramos is only 18 and Gonzalez is 19, so team officials are realistic about those lofty goals, even as they happily cheer them on. The Giants will let the minor league process do what it does, but the early returns were extremly positive.
Ramos, a center fielder, and Gonzalez, a third baseman, debuted together in the Arizona Rookie League and took turns tearing the cover off the ball. Ramos had six homers, six triples and 11 doubles in 138 at-bats before a concussion ended his season. Along with his 1.049 OPS, he stole 10 bases in 12 attempts.
"His power is unbelievable," Gonzalez said on this week's Giants Insider Podcast. "I think that I can hit the ball out and then I come out here the first day and he's hitting balls 50 feet over the fence to all parts of the field. You're like, ‘oh my goodness, who is this? He's 17?'"
Gonzalez, the son of former Diamondbacks star Luis Gonzalez, batted .339 in his first taste of professional ball and posted a .418 on-base percentage. He had 15 doubles, and scouts who saw him complimented his advanced approach at the plate. High school power prospects tend to swing-and-miss a lot early, but Gonzalez had 23 strikeouts to 16 walks in 46 games.
"When I see Jacob I see his approach," Ramos said. "I get confidence because I know when I get on base he's going to (drive me in)."
The Giants have yet to say where the two will start the season, but they hope to make the journey together. Ramos, a native of Puerto Rico, has become a regular at the Gonzalez house in the Phoenix area, playing whiffle ball and dominos and hanging out by the pool. Gonzalez said he tries to bring Spanish-speaking players over since his father is fluent and can help with the comfort level. When the two reported to minor league camp recently, Gonzalez posted a photo with Ramos with the caption "First Spring training with my brother is Finally Here." Ramos responded with "Always together."
"I feel like I'm at home (with them)," Ramos said.
Ramos, Gonzalez and the rest of the minor leaguers will begin playing games in a week, and manager Bruce Bochy has already said that Ramos may make a cameo in big league camp at some point this spring. Until then, you can get to know them better on this week's podcast. You can stream it here or download it on iTunes here.