Roberto Ramos has been giving Korea Baseball Organization pitchers nightmares. The former Colorado Rockies prospect came into the league and immediately was hitting the cover off of the ball. Even in a season where the rumors are flying that the KBO baseball is juiced again his power numbers have been impressive. However, most impressive is how much Ramos has changed his approach as a hitter.
There’s never been much doubt that Ramos has power in his swing. His ISO has regularly sat in the +.250 range outside of a few outlier stints at different affiliated levels. He had seasons of 13, 17, and 15 home runs until 2019 when playing for the AAA-level Pacific Coast League Albuquerque Isotopes he slugged 30 home runs and tossed in 27 doubles for good measure. Now, we know that the ball used by the PCL last year was juiced. Still, a .309/.400/.580 slash line with an ISO of .271 in 503 plate appearances is special no matter how you slice it.
The same level of power has followed Ramos to the KBO. In 70 plate appearances he has hit 7 bombs and 4 doubles for the ascendant LG Twins. He’s also brought a .350/.443/.767 slash line to the table. His ISO is an otherworldly .417 and I really can’t stress the rate at which he is mashing the baseball. An ISO like that puts him in the Chu Yu-Hsien stratosphere in 2020 and in Barry Bonds or Josh Gibson territory in terms of all-time great ISO seasons.
The problem that has plagued Ramos his whole career is that he strikes out at a Dave Kingman like pace. He crushes dingers and he knows how to take a walk, but he really loves to mash the ball and that was evident in his big hacks. Multiple seasons with a walk rate around 12% and a K rate around 28% made Ramos an almost impossible hitter for the Rockies to figure out. How was he able to walk at a decent clip and hit for so much power, but also strike out so much? The Rockies could never find an answer. Following his dominant Isotopes season they sent their young prospect to play for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League. Ramos built on his Isotopes season in the wrong way; more strikeouts and even less contact. The Rockies finally cut ties with their once highly thought of prospect.
Now with the Twins Ramos has seemingly changed as a hitter. He’s still hitting bombs left and right and full of plenty of raw power. He still has a good eye and is taking just as many walks as he did at any other point in his career. However, he’s dropped his K rate all the way to a career-low 18.6%. Throughout the rest of his career Ramos has never managed to get that number lower than 20.5% and that was early on in A-level ball. With the Twins he’s managed to both shorten his swing and do an even better job of waiting for his pitch to come to him. Ramos has prodigious power, he never needed the max effort swing he utilized during his affiliated days. Kudos to the Twins coaches for working with Ramos and getting him to make some minor tweaks that have taken him from a slugger to a downright lethal hitter.
It’s still early in the 2020 season and it will be interesting to see if Ramos’ approach stays the same or if he reverts back to his old approach. He will succeed with his old approach, but with his power and ability to take walks his new approach could make him a dominant force in the league. Strikeouts have always been Ramos’ kryptonite and if he has those in check watch out baseball world because Ramos definitely has the power to make some waves.
Lead photo courtesy of Unknown – Unknown