The newest member of the Washington Nationals, that's who! The Nats made their first splash on the trade market Thursday night, moving All-Star closer Matt Capps to the Minnesota Twins for minor league catcher Wilson Ramos and lefthanded pitcher Joe Testa. The 22 year old Venezuelan catcher hit .296/.321/.407 in 7 games for the Twins this year, but struggled in 71 games in AA, to the tune of .241/.280/.345. The 24 year old New Jerseyan reliever burned through low levels of the minors after being signed as an undrafted free agent in 2008, but has been hit hard in his first stay in AA this year, allowing 22 earned runs in 25 innings.
Ramos' rankings amongst all prospects:
#42: Keith Law of ESPN (1/28/2010)
#58: Baseball America (2/23/2010)
#65: Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus (3/3/2010)
Ramos' rankings amongst Twins prospects
#2 overall prospect, best power hitter, best defensive catcher: Baseball America (1/12/2010)
#2 overall prospect, Marc Hulet, Fangraphs (12/14/2009)
#2 overall prospect, Josh Johnson, Josh's Thoughts (4/16/2010)
#4 overall prospect: John Sickels, MinorLeagueBall.com (10/19/2009)
Winter League Player of the Year: Baseball America (3/5/2010)
Notes on Ramos:
"Grade B-. Power and defense are positives, main question is weak walk rate." John Sickels, MinorLeagueBall.com (10/19/2009)
"The Venezuela native isn’t far from being MLB-ready after hitting .317/.341/.454 in ’09 at double-A. Ramos has always hit for a solid average, but he’s also consistently produced healthy BABIPs, although many catchers suffer from chronically-low numbers in that area (due to a lack of foot speed). A catcher with raw power, he has nonetheless failed to post an ISO above .149 in his four-year career. Ramos also posted a walk rate of just 2.8% in ’09, so that obviously has to improve and he typically walks about 7.0%. His strikeout rate plummeted from 22.8% in ’08 to 11.2% in ’09, but injuries took a chunk out of his season and he had just 214 plate appearances. We’ll have to wait for 2010 to see if that was a true adjustment, or a small-sample-size blip. Behind the dish, Ramos has thrown out +40% in each of the past three seasons." Marc Hulet, Fangraphs (12/14/2009)
"While Ramos seems capable of becoming a quality starting catcher in the majors one day, he has struggled to stay healthy: he broke the tip of his left middle finger and injured his hamstring last year, missing nearly three months total. Also, Ramos doesn’t have much experience in the upper levels of the minors. He took 214 trips to the plate at Double-A last year and was off to a slow start at Triple-A this season (.179/.214/.328 in 70 PA, with three walks and 15 punch outs). CHONE projected a .263/.303/.394 line prior to 2010, and ZiPS had a .256/.297/.369 forecast. Four-for-five start aside, Ramos might not hit the ground running." David Golbiewski, Fangraphs (5/3/2010)
"A key factor for Ramos going forward will be learning when to use his aggressiveness, strength and bat speed, and when to lay off pitches. His plate discipline showed signs of improvement in winter ball. Overall, after drawing just six walks in 224 at-bats during the minor league regular season, Ramos drew 29 in 273 at-bats in Venezuela." John Manuel, Baseball America (3/5/2010)
"Ramos' offensive prowess is mostly what he is known for, but Ramos is also a stout defender behind the plate. Pitchers like the way he calls the game and his strong arm makes it hard for base runners to steal on him." Josh Johnson, Josh's Thoughts (4/16/2010)
"Even if this year's struggles can be chalked up to some bad luck, however, Ramos is far from a sure thing as a prospect. His walk rates, while along his career norm, are still very low. For his professional career, Ramos has walked just 82 times in 5 seasons, spanning over 1400 plate appearances and coinciding with 242 strikeouts. Without the power to compensate such free-swinging tendencies, Ramos will have to hit for a high average in the majors in order to avoid being an out-making machine. Whether or not he is able to adjust to major league pitching and curtail his tendency to hack away at the plate will ultimately determine his career path as a major leaguer, but his Mendoza Line-straddling batting average this year in Triple-A is no more a prediction than was his red-hot major league debut." MLB Prospect Watch (7/6/2010)
"On the other hand, Wilson Ramos has been totally overmatched by Triple-A pitching, posting a hideous 41-to-8 strikeout-to-walk ratio while hitting just .208/.244/.319 in 52 games. Ramos showed reasonable enough plate discipline in the low minors, but since advancing to Double-A last year he has 14 walks and 64 strikeouts in 106 games. He's making contact at a palatable rate, but the total lack of patience is disturbing along with a .427 career slugging percentage.
Ramos remains a very solid prospect largely due to projecting as a good defensive catcher, but it was always wishful thinking to assume he was even close to an MLB-ready impact bat and that notion now looks silly. With that said, he's still just 22 years old and has fewer than 450 plate appearances above Single-A, so there's no need to sour on Ramos too much." Aaron Gleeman (7/7/2010)
Not a whole lot on Testa.
He had a Q and A with SethSpeaks.net in 2009: "I throw a fastball, curve, slider, change up and a cutter. I’d say my out pitch would be my fastball and cutter. I’ve been working a lot more on my off speed pitches and my pick off move."
Bleacher Report (via Baseball News Share, as the original article has been taken down) had him as the 49th Twins prospect in 2010. Top insight: "He doesn’t have great velocity on any of his pitches, in fact he tops out around 90 mph, but he does fool hitters with outstanding movement."
Getting a top 50-75 prospect in return for a non-elite closer is a great deal in my opinion. Getting an interesting lefty as well is icing on the cake. Well done, Mike Rizzo. Best of luck in Minnesota, Matt Capps.