Why SF Giants called up Heliot Ramos and hit him third vs. Clayton Kershaw

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants have preached setting up their top prospects for success so heavily that a guy like Heliot Ramos, one of the top young outfielders in the minors, had been limited to low-pressure situations against only left-handed pitching.

So, what, who, huh? Was that Ramos’ name penciled in third against the future Hall of Famer on the mound Saturday, Clayton Kershaw, in a nationally televised showdown with the rival Dodgers? Indeed; it’s all part of the same development plan, manager Gabe Kapler explained.

“I think there is a lot of value in Heliot coming to the ballpark against the Dodgers, seeing Clayton Kershaw in the lineup and knowing he’s the three-hole hitter for the Giants,” Kapler said. “Sometimes it’s helpful to show a player what they can be before they are that player. … Today’s an opportunity to instill some confidence in Heliot and get him excited about a big opportunity.”

Ramos has made two short stints previously this season with the big club and brought an injection of energy each time, batting fourth, sixth and seventh in three previous starts. However, he was sent back down after only one game his last time and lasted only four games in his first trip to the majors.

Ramos has turned things around after a difficult start to the season at Triple-A. Since May 28, Ramos has hit safely in nine of his 10 games with Sacramento, raising his OPS nearly 100 points, from .537 to .632. In his one game with the Giants during that span, he went hitless in three at-bats but two balls left the bat at more than 100 mph.

“Heliot’s swinging the bat better,” Kapler said. “I think the last couple of weeks have been an improvement on the beginning of the season.”

When he was called up for the one game in Philadelphia, Ramos explained that a tweak to his swing and new focus on identifying pitches he can drive were the key factors in his turnaround.

But Kershaw? That’s a different test than anything Ramos has seen at Triple-A.

“I’m ready for him,” Ramos said.

Of being thrust into his first Giants-Dodgers rivalry, Ramos said, “I love it. I love that energy.”

How long Ramos’ third stint in San Francisco lasts remains to be seen. Part of the reason he was here for Saturday’s game was the left-handed starter on the mound, so it would make sense that Ramos would get another start Sunday with Julio Urias scheduled to start for the Dodgers.

A new rule this season limits club to optioning a player five times, but it didn’t take effect until May 2, so Ramos can be sent back down four more times this season without penalty.

Kapler described the organization’s managing of Ramos as a “push and pull.” It’s important, Kapler said, to build Ramos’ confidence with opportunities such as Saturday, but inevitably will come the difficult conversations that accompany sending him back to Triple-A.

“We’re going to raise the bar for you, we’re going to ask for more from you. In order to get these opportunities, you’re going to earn them,” Kapler said. “Then when you have them, we’re going to show you that we really believe in you and you’re capable of being great in this moment.”

Contributed by local news sources

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