Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Prospect #4 Wilson Ramos
Signed as International Free Agent in 2004, Venezuela
Levels Played in 2009: AA New Britain
Opening Day Age: 22
Wilson Ramos is a premium prospect. As one of those type of players that was plucked from South America at the age of 16, his development has been slow. But it has developed into a high caliber major league catcher. Ramos has all the tools to be successful and do even more.
The past three years, Wilson Ramos has moved quickly through low A ball all the way to AA and gave Drew Butera a run to make the major league roster this spring. Hampered by injuries, Ramos only played 54 games in AA New Britain. And playing only 54 games, some scouts still have Ramos rated as high as number 2 in the organization and top 40 in all of Major League Baseball. Ramos hit .317/.341/.454 in New Britain. At the age of 20 in 2008 he hit 13 home runs and drove in 78 in 126 games in a very tough Florida State League. Remember we are talking about a catcher here.
To get games in, Ramos headed back home to participate in the Venezuelan and Caribbean World Series this winter. Ramos raked up the league hitting .332/.397/.582. In 54 games he hit 12 home runs and drove in 54. To put in perspective if you translate to a full season we are talking about a 30+ home run guy.
Speaking of catching, Ramos is a plus defender. He threw out 42% of base runners in 2009. From behind the plate, he can save anywhere from 4 to 9 runs per season. He has some kinks to work out, when it comes to calling games. In spring training Ron Gardenhire pointed out that Ramos likes to call too many breaking balls. It happened on 2 occasions with Fransisco Liriano and Joe Nathan calling to many sliders to get strikeouts. Gardenhire told Ramos that this is strike throwing club. It is more important to locate a fastball and put the ball in play then go for the strikeout.
Offensivley Ramos is special. He has light tower power and again we are talking about a catcher here. He only had 30 at bats this spring but he made the most of them hitting .400 with and OPS of 1.133. He hit 2 monster home runs including one of former Twin Johan Santana. In the long run he will be able to hit for great power, and hit .280-.300 yearly. The only issue with his bat is his walk rate. In 5 years at the minors Ramos only has a league average OBP of .338. His strikeout to walk rate is more then 2 to 1. A lot of Twins scouts have gone out and said that this is not to much of a concern because the rest of his game is that good, but at some point getting on base is more important then making hard contact.
Ramos will begin the year in AAA Rochester after being sent down this morning. He will not be there for long as he is going into his 3rd year on the 40 man roster. I expect him to be a September call up and challenge to make the playoff roster as Mauer's backup and a huge right handed hitter of the bench.
In the long run it has been spoken of that Ramos was going to be insurance for Joe Mauer. I am not sure if everyone has heard but Joe did sign a contract extension that will keep him in a Twins uniform for the next 9 years (2018). So unless Wilson plans on changing positions, their is no room for him on the Twins. Which means......trade chip! I personally don't think the Twins should trade him this year unless a unique situation comes up. And when I say unique, I mean a front line starting pitcher who is better then all 5 of the guys the Twins currently have. I think Ramos is too good to be traded for a closer, especially with the crop of outfielders the Twins can use for a trade like that. Again this is a good situation to have. The Twins have a great team and one of the best farms systems they have had in the decade. Ramos will get his at bats in Rochester and do very well. I also want to state that Minnesota should not sit on Ramos for too long. The last team that had a catcher surplus was Texas with Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Max Ramirez and Taylor Teagarden. The Rangers did not trade any of them, they all lost some value and now are stuck.
ETA: September 2010
Projection: Power hitting catcher (25-30HR) with very good defense.
MLB Comparison: Behind the plate he will resemble any of the Molina brothers (Yadier, Jose, and Benjie). His bat will be Geovanny Soto.