December 5, 2022

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'I got swag now': Ramos picks up two hits, Crawford's cleats in debut

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SAN FRANCISCO — Giants prospect Heliot Ramos had hoped 2022 would be the year he finally reached the Majors, though he didn’t expect to receive the long-awaited call only three days into the regular season.

It didn’t take long for the 22-year-old outfielder to show he belonged. Ramos started in left field and went 2-for-3 in his Major League debut to help the Giants clinch a series victory with a 3-2 win over the Marlins on Sunday afternoon at Oracle Park. 

“It’s the happiest day of my life,” Ramos said. “I’ve been waiting for this.” 

Ramos, who batted sixth against Marlins left-hander Trevor Rogers, collected his first career hit in the second inning, when he smashed a single up the middle that deflected off the glove of second baseman Jazz Chisholm Jr.

Ramos then flashed his speed, scoring easily from first on Mauricio Dubón’s double down the left-field line to tie the game at 1-1.

Ramos, the Giants’ No. 5 prospect per MLB Pipeline, added an opposite-field single in the fourth before striking out in his final trip to the plate in the sixth.

“I don’t think you can draw it up better,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “You get a hit in your first at-bat, it kind of creates a bit of confidence and swagger. He maintained that swagger throughout. He was on deck late in the game and he was like, ‘I kind of expected to be more nervous than that.’ It’s great. We discussed that this is the only place to play. It’s what you think about from the earliest stage of your childhood if you’re a baseball player. He’s been driving toward this moment his entire life. He got here and took great advantage of it.”

Ramos said he planned to give his first-hit ball and bat to his mom, Norma, who is expected to fly into San Francisco with his dad, Pito, on Monday. The Puerto Rico native also came away with another token, as he wore a pair of Brandon Crawford’s orange-and-black leopard print cleats that were re-gifted to him by Joc Pederson.

“I got flow now,” Ramos said. “I got swag.”

Sunday marked the culmination of a journey that began five years ago, when the Giants selected the then-17-year-old Ramos in the first round of the 2017 Draft. The first sign that his promotion might be imminent came on Saturday night, when he was pulled from Triple-A Sacramento’s game after three innings. Ramos’ teammates told him he was likely heading to San Francisco, but he didn’t allow himself to get his hopes up until River Cats manager Dave Brundage pulled him aside to confirm the news. 

Ramos said his first call on Saturday was to his older brother, Henry, who debuted with the D-backs last year but is now playing for the KT Wiz of the Korea Baseball Organization. Henry didn’t pick up at first since he was working out, but the brothers managed to chat afterward. 

“The only thing he told me was enjoy the moment and just go play and have fun,” Ramos said. “He said it’s the same game, same everything. But obviously, it’s what we wanted, what we dreamed of.” 

When he walked into the Oracle Park clubhouse on Sunday morning, Ramos found a No. 53 jersey waiting for him in a locker stall next to his good friend and fellow rookie Joey Bart. He felt even more at home when he jogged out to left field in the top of the first inning and received a standing ovation from the fans in the bleachers.

Now that he’s finally arrived, Ramos is intent on proving that he deserves to stay and have a chance to show that he can be the impact right-handed bat that many fans felt the Giants should have added in free agency over the offseason. 

The Giants placed right-handed reliever John Brebbia on the bereavement list to clear a roster spot for Ramos, who was 3-for-13 with a home run, a double and four walks over his first four games with Triple-A Sacramento. Players can miss up to three games while on the bereavement list, so it’s unclear whether Ramos’ will be with the Giants for the short- or long-term.

San Francisco is slated to face another lefty, Sean Manaea, in Wednesday’s series finale against the Padres and could have another open roster spot with submariner Tyler Rogers expected to go on paternity leave soon.

“We look at it as an opportunity for Heliot to perform,” Kapler said. “I don’t think we have to see beyond today’s game and some upcoming games. We’ll see how he does and how comfortable he is at the Major League level. Performance, generally speaking, dictates that now.” 

Ramos, for his part, is eager to keep showing the Giants what he can do.

“I’m honestly hoping to stay here,” Ramos said. “I’m just playing baseball. Whatever they need me to do, that’s what I’m going to do. Honestly, I don’t want to go down. I want to stay here and I want to keep doing my thing.”

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