LOS ANGELES -- Heliot Ramos spent his Tuesday night about an hour away from Dodger Stadium. Ramos, the Giants' No. 2 prospect, started in center field in the California League All-Star Game, held at San Manuel Stadium in San Bernardino.
The road to the big leagues will be a significantly longer trip, but it definitely doesn't look the way it did before the season. While most in the organization still view Ramos as more of a 2021 option, he has accelerated the timeframe with a huge first half in San Jose.
Asked about Ramos recently, manager Bruce Bochy pointed out that this organization has a history of fast-tracking top hitting prospects.
"We've shown in the past that if guys are making progress -- you go back to Pablo and Buster -- we'll bring them up on a fast pace," Bochy said.
Buster Posey played 80 games in San Jose in 2009 and made a September cameo that same season; he was a big league starter the next year. Pablo Sandoval played 102 games in San Jose in 2007 and 68 in 2008, the season he ended up in the big leagues. Brandon Belt is another example on the big league roster; he destroyed the California League for 77 games in 2010 and made the Opening Day roster the next spring.
Ramos, still just 19, is a bit of a different case. Given his age and his ups-and-downs last season in Augusta, the Giants expected him to have a lengthy run in San Jose. He still might, but his first-half numbers compare favorably to others who were moved quickly.
Ramos has a .389 on-base percentage and .553 slugging percentage in San Jose. Posey was at .428 and .540, Sandoval at .353 and .528, and Belt at .492 and .628 (he seriously destroyed that league, which is part of why expectations have always been so high). By wRC+, Ramos (161) fits right in line with what Posey (157) and Sandoval (163 in his second season there) did in San Jose.
The 2017 first-rounder has eight homers in 37 games and has improved his plate discipline, nearly doubling his walk rate year-over-year and cutting his strikeout rate by a couple of percentage points. That was an early sign that Ramos was ready to break out.
"That's really exciting and that's obviously a point that's been emphasized with him and is a point for us in player development overall," president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said earlier this season.
Zaidi has a desire to move top prospects quickly and challenge them, and while Ramos was slowed by a knee injury in May, he has joined Joey Bart as Giants minor leaguers who look ready to be pushed.
"I thought once he got into the flow of professional ball he would get on a faster pace," Bochy said. "That's what's happening now. We got a chance to see him this spring and he's got some huge potential. With that bat speed, this kid can do some damage."