The Nationals traded one of their top catching prospects, Derek Norris, this offseason in order to acquire Gio Gonzalez from the Oakland A’s. That trade has worked out well for the Nats so far, but Nats have now lost their starting catcher, Wilson Ramos, with a torn ACL.
Ramos has had a rough year to say the least. He was kidnapped in this native Venezuela during winter ball, he didn’t have the best year defensively throwing out just 4 of 23 base stealers and allowing 2 past balls and 8 wild pitches, and now he’s likely to miss the rest of the year after getting his ACL surgically repaired. Unfortunately, the Nats have to move on, and that will be up to Jesus Flores and Sandy Leon.
Flores has been waiting for this opportunity since returning from a shoulder injury last season. Since returning last year, he hasn’t exactly dazzled at the plate in limited opportunities sporting a .207/.254/.289 slash line. Flores has been more successful throwing out base runners than Ramos in his chances this year tossing out 3 out of 5 runners. If Flores can show some better offensive stats with more regular playing time, the Nats could still be in pretty good shape. If not, it could just be the latest in a long line of devastating injuries.
Flores’ backup will be 23-year-old Sandy Leon. Leon, a native Venezuelan like Ramos and Flores, has had a breakout year in Double-A Harrisburg. He’s hit .319 with an .813 OPS. Leon always projected to be an outstanding defensive catcher. He was named the best defensive catcher in the Nats organization by Baseball America from 2009 to 2011 and was the named best defensive catcher in the Carolina League with the Potomac Nationals last season.
It will be fun to see what Leon can do behind the dish with guys like Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez on the mound. Though the loss of Ramos will certainly effect the team, the Nats have enough depth at the position that it doesn’t feel like it will be long-term or significant. If Flores can step it up offensively, we might not even notice the difference.