The Washington Nationals have a plentiful group of outstanding young talent that litters their rotation and their batting order. With such talents as Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg, Anthony Rendon, Gio Gonzalez, and Ian Desmond leading the strong youth movement that has taken the Nationals into playoff contention and hopefully World Series contention but of the youth movement none could have as great of an impact on the Nationals than catcher Wilson Ramos.
Wilson Ramos is the Nationals 26 year old catcher who could become one of the most powerful hitters at his position in all of baseball. But due to injury the man nicknamed The Buffalo has not fully lived up to all his potential and for that reason he is most likely the least known of the Washington Nationals immense talent pool.
The 6’1’’ 220 pound catcher did not start his career within the Nationals organization but was a part of the Minnesota Twins organization for 6 years prior to coming to the Nationals. He signed with the Twins as a non-drafted free agent on July 7, 2004. He had his best season in the Twins organization in 2008 with the Twins High –A affiliate, the Fort Myers Miracle, where he earned the honor of being on the Florida State League All Star team halfway through the season and then at the end of the season he was named to the leagues All FSL team as the best catcher in the league. In that season he would bat .288 and he came in fourth in the league with 78 RBIs and threw out an outstanding 43% of potential base stealers. With such a successful season he would then be named the Twins third best prospect by Baseball America.
After more successful years within the Twins minor league system he made his major league debut on May 2, 2010 against the Cleveland Indians he would not only get his first base hit in that game but would also get 3 more hits and finish the day 4 for 5 with 2 RBIs becoming the first Minnesota Twin to have such a game in their Major League debut since 1984 when future Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett did it. After that great start to his major league career one would think Wilson Ramos could be viewed as the catcher of future for the Twins but with Joe Mauer holding it down behind the plate he became expendable and the Nationals saw that and took advantage of the situation.
On July 29, 2010 Wilson was traded to the Nationals for All-star reliever Matt Capps. He would then only play 15 games for the Nationals spending a good amount of time in the minor leagues to adjust to the system. But in those 15 games he hit his first career home run and batted .269 as the catcher towards the end of the season. He would then be given the starting catchers job for the Nationals for the 2011 season and would take full advantage of the opportunity.
Wilson would go on to play in 113 games and hit 15 home runs with 52 RBIs and batted .267. But Wilson’s impact was seen not only with the bat but also on the field as he would throw out 32 percent of potential base stealers and would only have 5 errors in as the starting catcher. With such a successful season he was chosen by Baseball America as the starting catcher on its All-Rookie team. Then after such a successful season was over Wilson would experience his most traumatic and life changing moment in his life.
Like he does every offseason Wilson went home to visit his mother and her family in Valencia, Venezuela but he could not be prepared for what would happen while he was there. On November 9, 2011, Ramos was approached by four armed men near his home and was taken hostage and placed in a SUV. He was rescued by the Venezuelan police two days later, after what some civilians called it a rescue scene out of the movies. The police would arrest eight suspects including the leader of the kidnapping a 74 year old man who received only house arrest due to his age. Wilson gave very few interviews on the kidnapping but his only statement was when he said “What they did was laugh, joke about my pain. I’m very thankful, and I feel like I’ve been born again”
After the most traumatic moment in his life, Wilson came back to the Nationals and joined the team for spring training and was ready to start his season but he would only play in 25 games before tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee and miss the remainder of the season.
After a long rehab process Wilson was ready to come back to the Nationals and was ready to make an immediate impact on the team. Wilson would come back from the knee injury and he hit 16 home runs and 59 RBIs but in only 78 games due to multiple hamstring injuries. If he would have stayed healthy and kept up the pace for the whole season he would have become the most powerful catcher in all of baseball. If Wilson would have played in 145 games, which is the average for starting catchers, he could have potentially hit 30 home runs with 110 RBIs which would have led the catcher position in both categories.
With high expectation of Wilson’s potential coming into the season, of course, Wilson would suffer another injury setback. On opening day Wilson broke his hand and which required surgery to remove the hamate bone from the hand. He was then activated off the disabled list on May 7 and in his first at bat and first pitch of his return he smacked a double into the gap to get his day started.
One of the most intriguing stats about Wilson Ramos is his ability to hit at Nationals Park where he is a .297 hitter with 15 home runs and 60 RBIs. Along with hitting great at home he hits even better with the bases loaded as in just 28 at bats he has 24 RBIs and has a .393 average.
The Washington Nationals has one of the best young talented rosters in baseball but they could have one of the most dangerous hitters at his position behind the plate for many years to come. If Wilson Ramos can stay healthy, not only could he be the best offensive catcher in baseball but could help the Washington Nationals franchise secure their first World Series championship.