We hardly got a chance to know Wilson Ramos as a major leaguer before he was shipped out of town. But he was the third Twins player to make his big league debut during the 2010 season. Let’s get right to it …
Wilson Ramos – Catcher
As things were ramping up and as teams were getting ready to report to Spring Training last year, Ramos was ranked as the Twins 2nd best prospect by Baseball America. It was a very legitimate ranking.
He reached Double-A in 2009 and handled himself very well against more advanced competition. Ramos played in only 54 games for New Britain, and another 5 with the GCL Twins on a rehab assignment. The rest of his season fell victim to the injury bug. He broke the tip of one of his fingers and also suffered a hamstring injury that sidelined him for months. When he was able to take the field, Ramos hit 0.317/.339/.496 in 233 PA. Those are pretty solid slash stats for any 21-year old making the jump from A to AA but when you factor in that he’s a catcher and that the injuries prevented him from ever really getting into a groove and it is easy to understand why he entered 2010 so highly rated. Of course it wasn’t just his peformance in Double-A that had fans and scouts excited. Ramos also played in the Venezuelan Winter League in 2009 and torched opposing pitchers by hitting 0.332/.397/.582. His 12 HR were good for 3rd in the VWL and he also finished 2nd in SLG and 4th in OPS. Beyond all of that he drew 21 BB to go with 41 SO while playing for Tigres de Aragua which was a positive sign after drawing just 6 BB to go with only 23 SO in Double-A.
Not only was he #2 in the Twins organization, Baseball America also tabbed him as the 58th best prospect in baseball and they weren’t alone in their assessment. Ramos found himself on a lot of top-100 prospect lists before the season began.
When the 2010 season began Ramos, as expected, was with the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings but it didn’t take long for him to get called up to the show as injuries took their toll on the Twins major league catching depth. On May 2nd, Wilson made his debut on the road against the Cleveland Indians and proceeded to go 4-5 with a double. The next day, at home against the Tigers he went 3-4 with 2 doubles giving him a 0.778/.778/1.111 slash line* after two games.
*I’ll have more on this in a future column.
Baseball however is a game of streaks and Wilson quickly cooled off and managed just 1 hit in his next 18 at bats before being sent back to Rochester. He played 7 games in 7 days and crammed in a nice hot streak and a solid cold spell into the same week.
I can’t pretend to know the inner workings of his mind, but there had to be some disappointment when he returned to Triple-A and he struggled to get himself going again. By the time late July rolled around Wilson was hitting just 0.241/.280/.345 in 295 International League games. Fans and experts alike started to jump off the bandwagon and on July 29th the Twins organization jumped off as well. On that fateful day he was shipped to the Washington Nationals – along with 24-year old LHP Joe Testa – in exchange for Matt Capps and cash.
I’m not going to lie. I felt a little cheated when Ramos was dealt to the Nats. I assumed he would be dealt at some point during the 2010 or 2011 season. He was a valuable and expendable trade chip and I was prepared for his departure. I was not prepared for the return or the timing. As a general principle I oppose trading position player prospects for relief pitchers so I was unhappy with the move just from that basis alone. I was also unhappy because I felt the Twins were selling low and dealing away a legit ML catching prospect to get bullpen help. It went against my philosophy on so many levels I was a bit distraught by the move.
This is not to slight Matt Capps who more than held up his end of the bargain after joining the Twins. His 210 ERA+ is a testament to that, and as far as relievers go he seems like he will be a relatively stable commodity. He has been a consistently above average relief pitcher over the course of his career, though it is hard to ignore the blemish on his resume that is the 2009 season. I also can’t get away from the fact that Capps is going to have to pitch out of his mind for this trade to ever make sense in my mind.
As for Ramos, he went on to hit 0.316/.341/.494 with the Syracuse Chiefs (AAA) after the trade and then hit 0.269/.296/.404 with the Nationals in a late season call-up. Wilson also played for Tigres de Aragua this winter and once again tore through the league. This time around he hit 0.322/.390/.567 and showed even better plate discipline with 20 BB to go with 31 SO in 180 at bats. He was also a fixture on the VWL batting leader board in HR (t-2nd), BA (5th), OBP (7th), SLG (2nd), OPS (3rd).
Ramos now appears to be poised for significant playing time in Washington during the 2011 season and should be the team’s starting catcher either by the end of the year or by 2012 at the latest. I understand why the Twins made the trade, but I would have never pulled the trigger on that deal in a million years.
Ah, Wilson Ramos … we hardly knew ye.