Awful news to pass along. Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos has been kidnapped in his hometown of Valencia, Venezuela, according to his Venezuelan winter league team.

Ramos, 24, had gone home for the winter and planned to participate in roughly 10 games with Tigres de Aragua, starting Thursday. He is one of the Nationals’ best, most promising players, a rookie this past season who became the Nationals’ regular catcher.

View Photo Gallery: Wilson Ramos’ Venezuelan winter league team reports that he has been kidnapped in his hometown of Valencia, Venezuela.

Four people, armed, went into Ramos’s family’s house Wednesday night and took Ramos, and only Ramos, out of the house, put him in a green vehicle and sped away, according to multiple news reports out of Venezuela. Ramos’s family has not established communication with the kidnappers, the reports said.

In a crime and safety report this year, the State Department described kidnappings in Venezuela as “a growing industry.” In 2009, according to an estimate in the crime and safety report, “there was an alarming 9.2 incidents of kidnapping per 100,000 inhabitants in Venezuela.”

Many of the kidnappings that take place in the country are so-called “express” kidnappings, in which armed men drive a victim around and take money before returning him. The crime and safety report stated that “groups that specialize in these types of crimes operate with impunity or fear of incarceration.”

More details as they come.