Having surrendered their second-round pick for the luxury of signing Curtis Granderson, the Mets’ second pick of the 2014 came in the third round, and they dipped into the high school ranks to grab a slick-fielding, Colombian-born shortstop from Miami, Milton Ramos.
The first thing everyone mentions about Ramos is his glove. He has the opportunity to not just be a good defender at short, but a great one. Possessing fluid actions and plenty of agility to go with very soft hands, Ramos was almost certainly the best defensive player in this entire draft. He’s an instinctive fielder who impressed me with his footwork, his arm accuracy, and the overall grace with which he fields his position. An above average runner, he also has plenty of range, and I don’t see it getting much worse over time--Ramos possesses an ideal frame for a shortstop at 5 feet, 11 inches and 160 pounds sopping wet. If I had a knock against him defensively, I would cite his arm strength, which is merely above average. I feel confident rating him as a plus fielder and potentially the best in the organization. He’s somewhat similar to 2013 tenth-round pick Luis Guillorme, but I think Ramos’s defensive potential is higher due to superior range.
And here comes the reason why Ramos wasn’t selected until the third round. His bat is problematic. Right now he projects as a miserable hitter, the sort of hitter who shouldn’t be expected to bat anywhere higher than eighth or ninth. Contact is what I’m most worried about. He has a wide open stance, which doesn’t bother me at all if a hitter has his timing down, but Ramos closes himself up by bringing his lead foot up into a dramatic leg kick. This is a timing mechanism that he struggles mightily to get right, and more often than not, Ramos will find his weight too far forward too soon, forcing him to lunge at the pitch with his hands. Further complicating things, Ramos sets his hands up high before lowering them down to a deep horizontal hand load, which does help him drive the bat toward the ball, but sometimes it’ll give him a hitch and slow him down. It’s just very difficult to get your timing down when you have two complicated swing components at the same time. His over-aggressive approach at the plate doesn’t help things much either.
But when everything works right, the ball can jump off his bat. He has quick hands, and that provides him with some bat speed. Furthermore, he has some surprising strength to him, and he certainly has room to add muscle without slowing down. I wouldn't be shocked if he eventually hits 15 home runs in a season. On top of that, he does have his natural foot speed to bail him out from time to time. So, I wouldn’t say he’s a complete zero offensively, and he has the potential to be more than that.
A final issue: Baseball America says he’s known to scouts for demonstrating a lack of maturity at times. This doesn’t mean he’s a bad egg, but it may get in the way of his development at times. Hopefully, it’s overblown, but it bears watching. I don't know how difficult he will be to sign. Typically, a commitment to Florida International is something you can buy a player out of, but Ramos also had an outside chance of going in the first round, so he may be looking for a bigger payday than slot money in the third.
People love comps, and Baseball America did throw an Alcides Escobar comp out there, and I can see it, but I think Escobar might have a little more talent. Alex Gonzalez with more speed might be another. But that’s the profile we’re looking at here: a very good glove, some speed on the bases, and limited production at the plate.