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Why Giants' Double-A coach compares Ramos to Willie Mays originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
Sometimes a comparison makes you stop, press rewind and make sure you heard it right. Take a deep breath here, Giants fans.
Richmond Flying Squirrels fundamentals coach Gary Davenport is getting a front-row seat to watch Heliot Ramos every day, and he has something big to say about one of the Giants' top prospects.
"I might be reaching a little bit with this, but I tell you what, he really reminds me of a young Willie Mays when he was playing with the Giants back in the 60s," Davenport said Sunday to KNBR's Bill Laskey. "I was watching him, and he does all those things. He's got that kind of energy. He's got that happy-go-lucky attitude.
"He can run, he can throw, he's got power."
Ramos, 21, caught everyone's eyes this spring when he won the Barney Nugent Award as the Giants' most impressive player in their first big league camp. He hit moonshots, he showed off his speed and he looked big league ready.
But barely legally old enough to buy at $17 Bud Light at Oracle Park, the Giants decided to send Ramos back to Double-A Richmond to start the season. He struck out three times on Opening Day but then homered his next game. That has been the story of Ramos' season so far.
Playing in a pitcher's league and at a home park that very much favors pitchers, Ramos' season has been full of scorching hot streaks and then some freezing cold runs. He was hitting .314 with three home runs and an .892 OPS. However, he is just 4-for-22 in six games this month and all of his hits have been singles.
Still, he continues to impress Davenport and is batting .287 overall with an .804 OPS this year.
"He can make adjustments -- I mean, the intelligence side of the game, I just think he needs a little more experience," Davenport said. "He is so fast and he is so quick, that sometimes the league will catch up to some of that stuff.
"He's getting smarter, and that's why we have minor leagues."
One of the main reasons the Giants sent Ramos back to Double-A was to get him everyday reps in center field. Though a handful of evaluators believe his future is in right field, where he spent time in the spring and at the alternate site, the Giants still believe he can roam the middle of the outfield. So far, he hasn't made a single error this season.
Let's get one thing straight: Davenport isn't saying Ramos is going to become Mays. That just wouldn't be fair. At such a young age, though, it's understandable to see why he would make the comparison.
Both Ramos and Mays are built more like a running back or strong safety in the NFL than a center fielder. They both are thick in their shoulders and chest, and have elite natural power and speed. Mays made his MLB debut with the Giants at 20 years old in 1951, winning NL Rookie of the Year. Ramos could be the closest homegrown outfielder the Giants have had in a long, long time.
Davenport believes Ramos should be seen as the Giants' top prospect in a rising farm system. He clearly sees Ramos arriving in San Francisco, and staying for the long haul, before we know it.
"You're gonna be seeing a lot of Ramos in the future, that's for sure," Davenport said.