In his rookie season last year, Wilson Ramos cemented himself as the Nationals’ catcher of the future, “our backstop for the next 10 years,” General Manager Mike Rizzo said. Ramos has done nothing to alter that this year, but by many measures he has surprisingly regressed behind the plate.
“He was a ‘plus’ receiver last year,” one scout said. “He isn’t this year. It’s disappointing. He needs to flip that switch back.”
Last year, Ramos allowed three passed balls and could not block 32 wild pitches. This season, Ramos has allowed one passed ball and let eight wild pitches sneak past him – on pace for 48 total pitches that would get past him.
His glove has also come under scrutiny on throws from the outfield. During the Nationals’ last homestand, Jayson Werth fired a perfect, one-hop throw from right field that Ramos could not corral as he tried to tag out the runner trying to score on a sacrifice. Similar plays have occurred on at least two other occasions this seasons.
“He needs to use two hands,” the scout said.
Ramos has been one of the most consistent Nationals hitters this year, especially for a catcher batting eighth, having hit .260/.348/.364 with two homers. And Ramos’s issues behind home plate, at this point, seem more like hiccups than long-term problems. Still, they are problems he needs to address.
Bench coach Randy Knorr, a longtime major league catcher who won two World Series rings with the Blue Jays, has been working with Ramos on the issue. Manager Davey Johnson absolved Ramos, saying the plays he has missed have a higher degree of difficulty than it may seem.
“There’s always some concern,” Johnson said. “He’s so blessed with a lot of talent. He’s so strong. A player with his capabilities, his talent, all you really have to do is mention it to him if he has some issues with it. Some of those – like the curveball last night, the pitcher, it hit about six feet in front of him. You never know where those balls are going to go. The plays at the plate have been really boom-boom. He hasn’t had the opportunity to get the right hand on the glove.”