August 20, 2019

Washington Nationals Spring Training Preview: The Catchers

This week, District Sports Page will review the players currently on the Washington Nationals 40-man roster and their potential contributions to the Major League roster this season.

Monday: Catchers
Tuesday: Infielders
Wednesday: Outfielders
Thursday: Starters
Friday: Bullpen

Wilson Ramos

2014: 361 PAs, .267/.299/.399 with 11 HRs, 47 RBIs (0.9 WAR). 18 of 48 (38%) CS.

Ramos enters his mystical age-27 year hoping more for a full season of health as much as anything. The 88 games he played last year represented the second-most he’s played in his five-year big league career, which isn’t great. Still, his raw power is intriguing, even if it does come with a heavy ground ball skew. Ramos is solid throwing out would-be base stealers, but his reputation for having trouble fielding throws from the outfield is well-founded. Ramos is a good catcher, but his inability to stay healthy limits his utility and his opportunity to kick it up a notch is dwindling. Carpe diem.

Jose Lobaton
2014: 230 PAs, .234/.287/.304 with 2 HRs, 12 RBIs (0.5 WAR). 13 of 40 (33%) CS.

Lobaton, 31, posted his best season throwing out base runners and he’s praised for his pitch framing, which I suppose is all you can really ask for out of your backup catcher. The problem is Lobaton was pressed into more duty with yet another Wilson Ramos injury. Lobaton can’t really hit a lick, and if Ramos goes down for extended time this season, the Nats would have to consider trading for a starter, depending on the division standings and Ramos’ potential return. But if Ramos stays healthy, Lobaton is a perfectly suitable once-a-week catcher.

Sandy Leon
2014: 70 PAs, .156/.229/.219 with  1 HR, 3 RBIs. 5 of 8 (63%) CS.

The Nats cut ties with long-time third catcher Jhonatan Solano so 26-year-old Sandy Leon is up next. Leon hit .229/.321/.371 in 193 Triple-A plate appearances last season so he’s nobody’s idea of Johnny Bench. But he’s capable behind the plate and has a few years left in his legs so he’s entrenched at Syracuse until further notice. Not really a legitimate long-term big league option at this point in his career.

Dan Butler
2014: 20 PAs, .211/.250/.368, 2 RBIs. 0 of 3 CS.

Acquired in a trade for Daniel Rosenbaum after being DFA’d by Boston, Butler, 28, is organizational fodder. He’s hit .252/.347/.405 with 49 homers in 553 games over six minor league seasons. Butler always been old for his level throughout his MiLB career, perhaps inflating his power numbers. Not a prospect, but a Triple-A caddy.

About Dave Nichols

Dave Nichols is Editor-in-Chief of District Sports Page. He is credentialed to cover the Washington Nationals, Capitals, Wizards and Mystics. Dave also covers national college football and basketball and Major League Soccer for Associated Press and is a copy editor for the Spokesman-Review newspaper in Spokane, WA. He spent four years in radio covering the Baltimore Orioles, Washington Redskins and the University of Maryland football and basketball teams. Dave is a life-long D.C. sports fan and attended his first pro game in 1974 — the Caps’ second game in existence. You can follow him on Twitter @DaveNicholsDSP

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