25. Roberto Ramos (147 points, 14 ballots)
Roberto Ramos often gets compared to Brian Mundell as a prospect, which is natural since they’ve pursued a similar development path over the last three years while playing the same positions. They’re both 25 and stand 6’3”, they both mashed their way through the upper minors, and they both primarily played first base in that time. There are differences of course: Ramos is a lefty and was drafted a year earlier, while hitting many more HR and staying anchored to first base in AAA. Regardless, the result has been the same for these two prospects in that they’ve mashed in AAA but were both unprotected and not selected for the Rule 5 draft. Ramos will become a minor league free agent after 2020 without a 40-man roster assignment, while Mundell is one year behind on that path.
After spending parts of three years in High A, the native of Mexico broke through in 2018 with a dominant campaign spread between Lancaster and Hartford. Rather than have Ramos repeat in AA, the Rockies elected to move him directly up to AAA as the everyday first baseman. In the offense-crazy Pacific Coast League, Ramos thrived. In 503 PAs with Albuquerque, Ramos hit .309/.400/.580 with 30 HR and 57 extra-base hits in total, good for a 135 wRC+ even in that environment against pitchers who were on average about two years older. Ramos was assigned to the AFL after the season, where he scuffled to a .162/.295/.324 line with 2 HR in 44 PAs. In addition, he hit .230/.353/.375 in 184 PAs in the Mexican Winter League.
With Albuquerque, Ramos mashed at home (1.009 OPS) and on the road (.951 OPS), but demonstrated a heavy platoon split with a 1.049 OPS against right-handers but a .798 OPS against lefties. He benefited from a .390 BABIP while striking out 28% of the time. In all, he posted a Three True Outcome % over 46% (28% K, 12% BB, 6% HR), making him a true baseball prospect in the mold of today’s famous sluggers. You can see why Ramos has succeeded so far, but the question is, will this approach work for him in MLB?
Here’s some video of Ramos from July 2018 courtesy of 2080 Baseball:
Ricky Conti of Baseball Prospectus had some notes on Ramos from the 2019 AFL:
The swing is short and lofty, and it doesn’t spend much time in the zone; it’s of the golf variety, as he’s looking for something down to drive and pull. Ramos really struggled with plate coverage in this look, swinging and missing at fastballs away, or just slicing them foul. The pitch recognition was so-so, as he chased a number of breaking balls in the dirt, both early and late in the count. His forearms are especially strong, the bat speed is good, and you can tell Ramos is a confident and strong hitter in the box. It’s your run-of-the-mill power bat that needs to prove it can play against every mistake pitch in order to succeed at the next level. He’s a below-average runner who is stuck at first base, though it is notable that he is taking a considerable amount of pre-game ground balls in order to improve with the leather. There’s a lot of pressure on the bat, though.
Ramos was #31 on the FanGraphs system ranking (out of 31 ranked players) with a 35+ FV tag, highlighted by a 70 raw and 50 game power grade:
Ramos has Quad-A hitter written all over him and his Fall League trial and winter ball performance haven’t helped. But he has gigantic raw power, enough that he’s a cut above our honorable mention tier.
Ramos is ranked 27th by MLB Pipeline:
He has the classic left-handed uppercut swing and easily has raw plus power. He’s made some solid adjustments at the plate that allowed him to get to that power much more consistently in 2018, though he is still prone to the strikeout and gets pull-happy at times. He does draw some walks and has shown some aptitude to improving as an all-around hitter.
His has the ability to hit and hit for power as he is a well-below average runner, and he’s worked hard to become an acceptable defender at first. When he’s hot, he’s the type of hitter who can change the game with one swing.
The consensus leans toward Ramos likely staying an organizational player (albeit an interesting one) given the swing and miss in the bat-only profile. The Rockies seemed to subscribe to this idea when they didn’t protect Ramos from the Rule 5 draft twice after two monster seasons in a row, while the rest of MLB reinforced it when they didn’t select him twice.
2020 will see Ramos again vie for positioning and playing time with Mundell and Josh Fuentes in AAA, with each striving to serve as a thumper at first base for the Rockies should they need it. At this point, I agree with the prospect watchers in declaring Ramos to be AAAA depth, albeit potentially very useful depth for that 26th roster slot. As such, Ramos missed out on my personal list and has a 35+ Future Value tag from me.