Roberto Ramos was one of many Triple-A players that crushed the ball in the Pacific Coast League in 2019 only to miss out on a promotion in September.
Instead, the Rockies gave Ramos the opportunity to play in the Arizona Fall League after the then-24-year-old first baseman hit .309 with 30 home runs and 105 runs batted in for the Albuquerque Isotopes in his first season at Triple-A.
Ramos success did not transcend in limited Arizona Fall League play and when provided the opportunity to sign with Korean Baseball Organization’s LG Twins this past January, the young slugger jumped at the chance.
Two months later, North America was shut down by the coronavirus and while Ramos’s 2019 Triple-A teammates are stuck under stay-at-home orders in the United States, Ramos is appearing regularly in nationally-televised KBO games on ESPN. Ramos is one of the top foreign-born stars in the league and is off to an incredible start, hitting .350 with a league-leading seven home runs and .794 slugging percentage. Ramos is still only 25 years old and the national exposure the left-handed slugger is receiving in the United States can almost guarantee him the eventual Major League Baseball debut he had yet to achieve.
Ramos, a native of Sonora, Mex., was drafted by the Colorado Rockies out of Santa Clarita’s College of the Canyons in the 16th round of the 2014 MLB Draft. All Ramos did was crush the ball at every level of the Rockies’ farm system, hitting .292/.370/.527 with 98 home runs across 2,028 plate appearances in six minor league seasons. Still, many scouts labeled him as a “Four-A” hitter and the parent club seemed content with Daniel Murphy and Ryan McMahon at first base rather than giving Ramos a chance.
Now, Ramos could have the last laugh as he works his way back to North American baseball, much like former KBO players Eric Thames, Merrill Kelly, and Josh Lindblom have done in recent years.
While Ramos remains committed to his new LG Twins club, the opportunity for players that are failing to get their chance at consistent playing time at the MLB level are now being granted an opportunity to enhance their value overseas. Each KBO team is allowed one foreign-born hitter and two pitchers on their rosters (Ramos is joined by infielders Jose Miguel Fernandez and Mel Rojas Jr., as well as outfielder Preston Tucker), and the LG Twins are off to a hot start.
Being foreign-born and going to the KBO isn’t a guarantee of success as many other hitters are not seeing the production Ramos has shown.
Ramos will continue to get his at-bats on national television as American baseball fans wait for MLB and the MLBPA to agree on terms for a continued 2020 baseball season. Meanwhile, diehard baseball fans are beginning to appreciate the play of KBO baseball, developing fandom to clubs, and providing the likes of Robert Ramos a chance to prove to a larger audience that his days in the minor leagues have come to an end.