What to Do with Wilson Ramos?

Tom DubberkeCorrespondent IMarch 27, 2010

Here’s an article by Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star Tribune about whether Twins’ hot-shot catching prospect Wilson Ramos is now relegated to trade bait because the Twins have just signed Joe Mauer to his eight-year extension.

Ramos is a 22 year old Venezuelan catcher who hit .317 with a .795 OPS in 205 at-bats at AA New Britain at age 21.  He had similar years with the bat in the Class A Midwest League and the Class A+ Florida State League in 2007 and 2008.

This Spring Wilson is hitting a lusty .393 in substantial playing time (28 ABs) with a 1.036 OPS.  The only real complaint is that he hasn’t drawn even one walk this Spring.

However, he almost certainly won’t make the major league team, even with the injury to last year’s super-sub Jose Morales, because the Twins want him to play everyday, which he’d get to do at AAA Rochester, and he won’t get to do playing behind Joe Mauer in Minnesota.

Jose Morales had wrist surgery in January, and although there’s an article on the Twins’ website from when Spring Training began indicating the Twins expected him to be ready by Opening Day, it sure doesn’t look like it now.  He hasn’t had even one Spring at-bat yet, so the chances are good that even if he’s ready to play when the season starts, he’ll do it somewhere in the low minors on injury rehab.  If things go well for Morales, he’ll likely be ready to join the Twins ten or fifteen games into the season.

Right now it looks like Drew Butera, who the Twins acquired from the Mets in the Luis Castillo deal in 2008, will be the back-up catcher when the Twins’ season opens.  Butera is a feeble 3 for 19 at the plate this Spring, and his last two seasons spent in AA and AAA suggest he’s no kind of major league hitter, even for a back-up catcher.

Most likely this means Joe Mauer plays almost every day in April and possibly May, until Jose Morales is ready to come back, and the Twins send Butera back down the minors where he belongs.

Meanwhile, Wilson Ramos definitely needs half a season at AAA Rochester to prove whether he’s really ready to be  a major league player.

There’s no reason for Twins’ fans to worry about the Ramos situation at this minute.  Even if he proves he’s ready by the 2010 All-Star Break, you never know what will happen.  Catchers get hurt a lot, so there’s still a chance that Ramos will prove a useful player for the Twins to have around in 2010 and 2011.

By the end of the 2011 season, though, if Ramos continues to develop, the Twins will probably be forced to trade him.  If he’s established himself as a major league player by that point, there will be a market for him, because half of the major league teams need a starting catcher that can hit.