In 13 days, all the Nationals diehards will be preparing to head to Nationals Park on Opening Day. Until then, we're going to predict the 25 man roster. With one catch. We're going to do it one day at a time. This way, we can provide more in depth thoughts on who we think is going to make the roster, why we think so, and what to expect from them in 2011. On the morning of Opening Day, we'll post the real 25-man compared with what we predicted.
Today, we look at the catcher who will platoon with Pudge this season: Wilson Ramos.
Why?: Ramos is a bit of a unique case for the 25 in 25 list. Everyone sort of assumed the job was his coming into the spring, but then Jesus Flores got healthy and many expected he would bring some serious competition after missing two seasons while nursing a shoulder injury. But while Flores is still great behind the plate, his lack of bat shows that you can't just disappear from baseball for two seasons and come back where you left off. It will take time, which is why Flores will probably start the year in AAA.
In a very limited sample size (24 at bats), Ramos is hitting .250 with an OBP under .300, but it's the spring, and there's not a whole lot to be worried about here. He's progressing behind the plate and is next in line to be "catcher of the future" for the Nats. Getting Ramos from the Twins last season is among the better trades that Mike Rizzo has facilitated since he became the Nats full-time GM.
What to expect?: Expect Pudge to prepare Ramos for the "you're next" role that the team clearly expects him to take on. He's an above average hitting catcher and is solid behind the plate. Expect Ramos to have a season that compares with his 2010 numbers of .278/.305/.405, which the Nats will gladly accept.
Ramos can't get to comfortable, though. Derek Norris is waiting in the wings, and may not wait much longer. Although many, including Baseball America and us, expect that Norris will eventually be converted into a 1st baseman. It doesn't hurt to have a bit of organizational competition in the mean time though.