The Nationals catching situation was supposed to be pretty well set by now when they found catcher Jesus Flores in the Rule 5 Draft a few years back. Instead, Flores has been a walking medical bill and has had more x-rays than he has hits, which helped to bring Ivan Rodriguez to the Nationals during the off-season. And now, it's lead to acquiring a catching prospect in exchange for Matt Capps.
Wilson Ramos is a legitimate prospect and probably the only reason the Nationals were able to get him in exchange for Capps is the fact that a catching prospect in the Twins organization - especially one at the higher levels of the minors - isn't nearly as valuable to the Twins as he would be to other clubs, thanks to Joe Mauer.
The soon-to-be 23 year-old was signed out of Venezuela in 2004 and has moved pretty swiftly through the Minnesota Twins organization, starting this season at Triple-A Rochester. Ramos himself lost three months of the 2009 season thanks to a broken finger and a hamstring injury, but put up impressive enough numbers and hit well enough in winter ball that he has seemingly made up for lost time and was off to his usual slow start at Rochester when the improbable happened and Ramos was suddenly a major leaguer. An injury to Mauer put the Twins catching situation into a spin and Ramos was eventually summoned to play in the majors. The Twins took full advantage of the situation and put Ramos into the starting lineup for a week and he responded by going 8-for-27 (.296) in his stint with the Twins before being returned to Rochester when Mauer came off the DL.
While he is a slow starter, Ramos has always been able to have good enough defensive skills so his early season slides don't keep him out of the lineup. Over his minor league career, Ramos has thrown out over 40% of the baserunners who have attempted to steal against him. Ramos is fairly agile behind the plate and is physical enough that he can handle the beating that catchers routinely take over the course of a season.
Offensively, Ramos has natural power and is learning to turn on pitches a little more to utilize more of his power game. He has always been able to take pitches to every part of the field and has enough power to hit balls out the opposite way, but becoming more of a pull hitter will put his power to better use and hopefully not damage the rest of his offensive numbers too much. Ramos has hit 37 home runs since he played his first season in the United States in 2006 and has a career minor league average of .285, including a .400 mark (6-for-15) since arriving at Syracuse after the trade. Ramos can be a little over aggressive at the plate at times, which leads to a fairly high amount of strikeouts, including striking out at a rate of once every 4.4 at-bats in 2008. He has changed his approach slightly since then and he struck out just once every 9.8 at-bats last season and has struck out once every six at-bats this season between Rochester and Syracuse.
It will be interesting to see how Ramos fits in with the Nationals. It's very likely that he'll get an audition in September and with Wil Nieves in a season-long slump, he could become the backup to Rodriguez next season, having the veteran there to tutor him, much like the Nationals hoped he would be able to do with Flores. Of course, Flores situation will complicate matters and nothing is going to be handed to Ramos. Flores will likely fight for his backup job back next season, which could change the course for Ramos, but at his age, another season at Triple-A wouldn't really derail him.
Wilton Ramos career stats
|2010||combined MiLB stats||6||34||.249||75||293||29||73||14||1||1||12||49||.286||.365|
|Career minor league stats||37||215||.285||379||1415||172||403||83||6||6||86||250||.332||.430|