[Editor’s note: A total of 12 prospects received votes in our True Blue LA community ranking, which we are revealing in reverse order. Pitchers Clayton Beeter and Landon Knack were tied at No. 11, and outfielder James Outman was No. 10.]
The missing pandemic season in 2020 has created a multitude of “pop up” guys and has made it especially tough for people like myself to get a good read on the development of younger players in the Dodger system. Jose Ramos went from a hitter-ish, toolsy undersized outfielder to a filled-out slugger posting eye-raising offensive numbers with Low-A Rancho Cucamonga. While he certainly has the makings of a worthwhile prospect, a top-10 ranking for Ramos feels a little rich this early. When I evaluate Jose Ramos, the offensive production doesn’t quite match the eye test in the same way it does for players like Miguel Vargas or Andy Pages. Ramos’ swing brings to mind to me the “stack and tilt” movement in golf, where almost all power is generated vertically rather than in any discernible weight shift or power transfer toward impact. That’s not to suggest that it doesn’t exist, but the most standout aspect to Ramos’ swing is the torso torsion and loft generated by a change in upper body angle (basically, in a side view of his swing, a line drawn from shoulder to should would see a significant angle change from pointing down to the right to pointing up to the right).
Perhaps an easier way to describe what I’m seeing is that Ramos’ swing lacks the athleticism and freedom of movement I see in a player like Andy Pages (hint: I really like Andy Pages). Ramos looks a little too stiff in the lower body and could struggle to impact the baseball in all parts of the zone due to adequate plate coverage given the angle of his swing. I should couch this concern with a sample size issue, given that I just haven’t seen THAT many videos of Ramos’ swing in games. Still, fluidity tends to be evident relatively quickly, and Ramos just doesn’t appear on the same level (yet), and that partially could be an effect of how rapidly he has developed physically.
From a numbers standpoint, this looks to track as well. Ramos was a fairly extreme pull/flyball hitter, which is not necessarily a negative, but one look at his upright uppercut swing would suggest as much. He did strike out fairly frequently at 25.9 percent, and I wonder just where that number goes when better pitchers can locate away from his wheelhouse more often than just trying to pump it past him.
Before the season, available scouting reports on Ramos suggested he was a strong runner and fielder, and while I can’t speak to either of these just yet, it’s worth noting that he did not run much in 2021 and his frame has filled out more since he was last seen. I have no reason to think he can’t still manage center field since he continued to run out there for Rancho Cucamonga, and he probably will get reps at all three spots in High-A Great Lakes’ outfield in 2022. Ramos is an “arrow up” guy coming into the 2022 season, but with just a little over half a season’s worth of minor league games last year, I just don’t feel like we have enough of a handle on where he is as a prospect to rank him ahead of some of the infielders the Dodgers just placed on their 40-man roster this off-season. If Ramos proves that his plate coverage is better than what I see above in a limited sample, he could be just as high if not higher on this list next year.