How Ramón Laureano Can Take Next Steps After Breakout Season in 2018

MESA, Ariz. -- Ramón Laureano's nickname in college was "Noodles," because of a Top Ramen habit.  

As of last summer, it evolved into "Lazer Ramón," as in Oakland's energetic and athletic outfielder.
"I had very high expectations of him coming into camp last year," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "You could see the demeanor, and the fearlessness, and the confidence. Unfortunately, he got hurt (hit by a pitch), but I knew in time, he'd be here."

Laureano is just the type of hard-nosed, hard-worker the fans believe him to be.

"I'm not that talented," he told me in a joking but serious way. "For real, I feel like I have to pay attention to details to keep up with the other guys. Feel like I constantly have to be in the gym or the video room."  

The 24-year-old's backstory is one of overcoming the odds. One example is that Laureano actually paid his own last-minute airfare from the Dominican Republic for a chance to even be scouted and subsequently drafted in 2014. As he says: "It's how my whole life has been."

Last August, "the throw" -- a 321-foot rocket from left-center in Anaheim to double up a runner at first base -- put him on the map. But it was more than his arm. The legs and his heart were on full display in the final weeks of the season. An unusual yet refreshing amount of confidence for any rookie.

"All he did was not allow us to send him back down," Melvin said. "He grasped that center-field position. He really fit in with the way we play the game and the way Oakland fans like to see it played."

Now the next steps for Laureano include how to harness and pace that kind of energy over the course of 162 games. He admitted: "I know I play hard, and that's not good in a long season." 

[RELATED: LeBron likes insane throw by Laureano]

He's the kind of player who will crash into a wall or an opponent trying to tag him out. Whatever it takes to get the end result. But now there's also an aim for preservation.  

"At some point in time, you're going to see him run out of his body. Or slide, or dive out of his body," Melvin said. "It's our job to try and keep him all in one piece."

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