The top player on the island of Puerto Rico this year is Heliot Ramos, who attends high school in the city of Guaynabo. Listed at either 6-1 or 6-2, 185 or 190 pounds depending on the source, the right-handed Ramos was born September 7th, 1999. At age 17 he’ll be one of the youngest players available on draft day. He’ll also be one of the toolsiest.
He is committed to Florida International University but should be signable if drafted in the early rounds.
Name a physical tool and Ramos has it: 60-65 speed, 50 or 60 arm depending on the source, 60 raw power. Reports on his long-term defensive home are mixed, his advocates projecting him as an above-average center fielder in all respects, while doubters who don’t think his arm is better than average project that he’ll fit best in left. His range and outfield instincts will play anywhere.
A chiseled athlete, Ramos is strong enough to hit the ball out of any park when he makes contact. When his swing is right he shows excellent bat speed and looks like he will hit for both power and average.
The swing isn’t always right: like many young hitters, Ramos can be inconsistent and his bat speed has been known to dip when his swing is out of whack. His approach is aggressive and it remains to be seen if he can control the strike zone sufficiently at higher levels.
Pro coaching should be able to correct all of this, in theory, but baseball history is littered with promising raw tools outfielders who never develop the necessary skills to make the tools work on the field.
If Ramos puts everything together, he could be a 20/20 player who also hits for average and has a strong glove in center field. That’s a reasonably big “if” and any team drafting him should be prepared for a five/six year development project, although at the end of that the payoff could be excellent.
Risks aside, his upside is very enticing. He could be drafted in the second half of the first round or any time after.