You think you’re tough? Are you a catcher in MLB? Probably not. Have you come back from a torn ACL? Maybe you have-- it sucks right? How about being kidnapped in Venezuela in front of your family? I didn’t think so. These are just some of the things that make Wilson Ramos, catcher for the Washington Nationals, tough. Plagued by injuries the last three years, Ramos now has the opportunity to showcase his true skills both behind the plate and at the plate in 2014. If his performance over the last few months of 2013 are any sign of what’s to come, Ramos looks to become a top five catcher in 2014.
Who is Wilson Ramos?
The 6'1" 220 lb. Ramos is from Venezuela, where he was signed as a free agent in 2004 by the Minnesota Twins. He moved through the Twins system and made his major league debut in 2010, where he became the first catcher since 1900 to collect four hits in his MLB debut. Unfortunately, he was playing behind Joe Mauer. This led to his trade to the Nationals in 2010 for reliever Matt Capps. He backed up the great Ivan Rodriguez in 2010 and took over full time catching duties in 2011. In his rookie year of 2011, Ramos played 113 games, the most he has played thus far in his career. He finished with 15 HR, 52 RBI and a .267 BA, finishing fourth in NL Rookie of the Year voting.
Ramos was the starter heading into 2012, and he looked to be having a breakout year before he tore his ACL chasing a passed ball. After a full recovery, Ramos again was the starter in 2013 and got off to a hot start before hurting his hamstring. After a two-week DL stint, Ramos came back and struggled before re-aggravating the hamstring. This time he was out for a month and half. Finally healthy, Ramos returned on July 4th, and proceeded to hit .276 with 14 HR and 53 RBI rest of the way. His 16 HR and 59 RBI in 2013 had him 10th and 12th respectively among catchers, and he did it with just 287 AB. Ramos hits for power-- his average HR distance was 405.9 feet and he launched his longest HR (434 ft.) at Marlins Park. He hit a HR every 17.9 AB, behind only Evan Gattis (16.9) and Brian McCann (17.8) at his position. Ramos doesn’t walk-- only 5% of the time-- but last year he posted his lowest K% (13.9%) since playing AA in 2009. He slugged .470, which would have been top 10 if he had qualified with enough AB. Will he get enough AB in 2014? Will he stay injury free? The Nationals certainly hope so. When Ramos was behind the plate last year, the Nats were 48-29.
Where to draft Ramos
Wilson Ramos currently has an ADP of 171 at FantasyPros, going as high as 138 and as low as 270. He's the 11th catcher going off the board, and it seems like his injury history has rendered him an afterthought at the draft table as owners are worried about his health. This only works in your favor, as he's an absolute steal in the later rounds. You can draft Posey, Mauer or Molina in the first six rounds, or wait until the 17th to get comparable production out of Ramos. He has the tools to finish in the top five catchers this year, so if you’re looking for late-round power out of your catcher, grab Ramos before somebody else who read this article has. If he meets my projections, he WILL be a top five catcher!
Remember, this guy survived a kidnapping after being rescued amongst a firefight. Wilson Ramos is tough.
2014 Fantasy Projections: 24 HR, 77 RBI, 54 R, .272 BA