CINCINNATI — The Washington Nationals won’t know for sure until Sunday morning just how serious the injury is to catcher Wilson Ramos, but in need of an immediate move to have a backup catcher for Sunday’s game, the club is planning to give Sandy Leon an opportunity.
Leon, 23, is a switch-hitting catcher who is considered one of the Nationals’ best prospects at the position and was named the best defensive catcher in the Carolina League during the 2011 season by Baseball America. Leon has drawn raves from the Nationals’ scouts since he signed in 2007 for his exceptional receiving skills, his quick release and his strong throwing arm.
In 27 games at Double-A Harrisburg this season, Leon is hitting .319 with a .356 on-base percentage and .457 slugging percentage. He has 10 doubles, four walks and only 10 strikeouts in 94 at-bats.
Double-A Harrisburg is playing in Akron, Ohio this weekend, making it relatively easy for Leon to make the roughly four-hour drive southwest for Sunday’s game. It would have been extremely difficult for the Nationals to get a catcher to Cincinnati from Triple-A Syracuse in time for the Nationals’ 1:10 p.m. finale with the Reds.
That doesn’t mean, however, that his stay with the major league team will be an abbreviated one. The Nationals won’t make any final decisions until they know the extent of Ramos’ injury but the door for Leon to remain with the team for an extended period is open.
Leon will be added to the Nationals’ 40-man roster as Jhonatan Solano, currently on the disabled list with Triple-A, is the only other catcher outside of Ramos and Jesus Flores on the team’s 40-man but the Nationals only have 39 players currently on it.