Why Heliot Ramos is king of baseball kismet. Plus, final MLB Draft prospect rankings

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Heliot Ramos and baseball are teaming up to test our sanity. Plus: Ken on the Tigers’ big trade chip, Keith Law’s new top-100 draft prospects list dropped and Brandon Nimmo is asking Mets ownership for help. I’m Levi Weaver, here with Ken Rosenthal — welcome to The Windup!

Connecting the Dots: Heliot Ramos, king of baseball kismet 

Baseball pretends to be a reasoned and logical adult. “Look at this spin rate,” it says. “I can calculate the exit velocity of this home run to within a tenth of a mile per hour.” It opens a file and you settle in for a nice, logical conversation. But inevitably, baseball will start to drop the rational act and get downright mystical.

Such is the story it is telling us about Heliot Ramos.

  • June 20, Rickwood Field game: Two days after Willie Mays passes away, Ramos, who is *ahem* 24 years old and playing center field for the Giants, hits a home run. The Giants score five runs, the Cardinals six: 5-6. Willie Mays’ birthday: May 6.
  • June 24: Ramos makes an over-the-shoulder basket catch in center field while wearing Mays’ No. 24 jersey (as did all the Giants that night) en route to a walk-off win.
  • July 7: Ramos is named to the NL All-Star team. He’s the first homegrown Giants outfielder to make the All-Star team since Chili Davis in 1986. If he is selected to start in place of the injured Fernando Tatis Jr., he’ll be the first Giants outfielder to start an All-Star game since — you guessed it — Mays in 1971.
  • July 16: Ramos will become the second Giants outfielder from Puerto Rico to play in an All-Star game. The other: Orlando Cepeda, who played left field in 1960 and 1961 before moving back to first base. Cepeda passed away June 28.
  • Seven: Seven years after being drafted, Ramos finally got his full-time shot in the big leagues when Jorge Soler became the seventh Giants player added to the IL in an eight-day span. He hit seventh and played DH, just as he had in an Under Armour All America Game at Wrigley Field when the Giants were scouting him. His birthday is Sept. 7. And after his most recent game (on July 7, his 77th career start), his career OPS is — and I’m not making this up — .777 (go look it up!)

OK, is the last one a stretch? Sure. But that’s what baseball does! It sucks you in with its symmetry and the next thing you know, you’re “The Bible Code”-ing a guy’s career.

The more simple magic: Ramos came into this season hitting just .158 in 76 (so close!) big-league at-bats. He didn’t make the team out of camp. And now he’s an All-Star. Andrew Baggarly has the whole story here, and it’s worth your time.

Ken’s Notebook: In Flaherty, Detroit has options

A year ago, the Tigers turned four months of Michael Lorenzen into 21-year-old second baseman Hao-Yu Lee, one of the youngest and best players at Double A, entering Monday with an .881 OPS.

Jack Flaherty, the team’s latest one-year free-agent starter, should yield an even bigger return — and the payoff does not necessarily need to come in a trade.

Flaherty, 28, is scheduled to rejoin the Tigers’ rotation Thursday after receiving two injections in recent weeks to relieve soreness in his lower back. As long as he demonstrates he is healthy, he could be one of the most coveted starters leading to the July 30 deadline. But if the Tigers do not get an offer they deem acceptable, they can keep Flaherty, make him a qualifying offer at the end of the season and potentially receive a draft pick at the end of the first round as compensation.

A trade is the more likely course. Flaherty’s ERA through 89 innings is 3.24. His strikeout-to-walk ratio ranks among the league’s best. If he hadn’t missed a start in June and another more recently, he perhaps would have been an All-Star, like Lorenzen a year ago.

Flaherty did not pitch well after the Cardinals traded him to the Orioles at last year’s deadline, producing a 6.75 ERA in 34 2/3 innings. But his performance in the first half was perhaps his best since 2019. And to trade him, the Tigers will want more than the value of the pick they would receive if he rejected a qualifying offer.

As a revenue-sharing recipient, the Tigers’ selection would be between the first round and Competitive Balance Round A as long as Flaherty signed a free-agent deal for more than $50 million. If healthy, he should clear that bar easily. Entering his age-29 season, he would be one of the youngest starters on the market.

With the No. 37 pick last year, the Tigers selected middle infielder Kevin McGonigle, whom The Athletic’s Keith Law rated at the start of the season as Detroit’s No. 7 prospect. The compensation pick for Flaherty likely would be a few places higher.

If Flaherty accepted the qualifying offer, the Tigers also would come out ahead, keeping him for one more year at a salary in the $20 million range. But again, everything would hinge on Flaherty staying healthy. The safest option for the Tigers would be to avoid that risk, and make the best possible trade.

The Athletic’s Cody Stavenhagen also wrote about the Flaherty situation recently.

Draft Preview: Keith Law’s final prospect rankings

Starting Sunday, while the league is “taking a break” for the All-Star festivities, front offices around the country will be huddled together for this year’s MLB Draft. Keith Law has gifted us with one last top-100 list (he’ll have a final mock draft later this week).

It’s not the deepest draft class this year, but there are no surprises at the top, where Cleveland’s picking. As Law notes,  Charlie Condon (OF/3B, Georgia) “would be challenging for the top spot in many years,” having set the — well, a — college home run record. The NCAA switched up its bat regulations in 2012. Condon’s 37 in 60 games were the most since then, but technically less than four previous players, including Pete Incaviglia (48 in 1985).

Of note, though: Incaviglia played 75 games for Oklahoma State that year. That’s .64 home runs per game; Condon — again, with a deader bat — hit .62 per game.

Something I found interesting as I perused the NCAA single-season home run leaders: only one of the top six really turned into a great big leaguer.

  1. Incaviglia (48, 1985) — 10.3 bWAR, 12 big-league seasons
  2. Jeff Ledbetter (42, 1982) — never played above Double A
  3. Lance Berkman (41, 1997) — 51.9 bWAR, 15 big-league seasons
  4. Brandon Larson (40, 1997) — negative-0.9 bWAR, four big-league seasons
  5. (tie) Steve Hacker (37, 1995) — never played above Triple A

That’s not to suggest Condon won’t be a star. Again, those guys played in a different era, with a different bat, and the adjustment to wood bats must have been harder. Still: interesting!

Travis Bazzana (2B, Oregon State) and JJ Wetherholt (2B, West Virginia) round out the top three in Law’s list, with RHP Braden Montgomery of Texas A&M coming in fourth as the top-rated pitcher.

More draft: Mitch Light tells us a few recruiting backstories, including Wetherholt’s journey to West Virginia.

The Mets!: Nimmo ‘nudges’ ownership

The Mets lost 8-2 to the Pirates last night. They’re back under .500 (44-45), and are perhaps the streakiest team in baseball this year. One week, they look like they’ve put it together en route to October. The next, they’re “The Mets!”-ing themselves into another stint of weird losses.

They’re currently 2 1/2 games back of a wild-card position, tied with the D-Backs on the front row just outside the NL field. Rows 2-6 are a chaotic game of musical chairs, all within three games of New York and Arizona, making it a real conundrum to figure out if they should be buyers or sellers at the deadline.

But at least one person has made up his mind: Mets outfielder Brandon Nimmo said in an interview recently that he has been actively lobbying team owner Steve Cohen to push a few of his plentiful chips toward the middle of the table and make a run at the postseason.

It’s not the first time we’ve heard such a thing this year (remember Mike Trout “pushing” Angels ownership to add free agents this spring?), but hearing it said publicly is still unusual enough to be noteworthy.

Will Sammon has the full story and conversation here, noting that if the Mets are going to contend, they need at least a couple of relievers to help steady the back innings.

Handshakes and High Fives

This week’s Power Rankings focus on how teams’ playoff odds have changed since Opening Day. Spoiler: The Rockies’ odds have not changed!

Jarren Duran is one of the game’s most electrifying players. It wasn’t always that way for him in Boston, but he’s an All-Star now, says Steve Buckley.

Luis Gil steadied his recent slide, but the Yankees continue to lose, and “it feels terrible.” Is it time to panic yet?

Rece Hinds made his big-league debut for the Reds last night, and hit a monster home run to announce his presence.

The Tigers have seen life without Javy Báez, and — even for all his struggles — it was not better.

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(Photo of Ramos: Brett Davis / USA Today)

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