Like Carlos Maldonado, catcher Sandy Leon wasn’t expected to make much of an impact for the Washington Nationals in the 2012 season. In fact, ZiPS did not even project stats for Leon at all! He started the year at Double-A Harrisburg, where he has spent the majority of his career since being signed as an un-drafted free agent by the club in 2007. While in 2009 Leon was cited by Baseball America as the best defensive catcher in the Washington farm system entering the 2009 season, he did not receive any action with the big-league squad until this year when injuries began to plague the Nationals bench.
Leon made his debut for the Nationals on May 14 against the Padres, following a season-ending injury to Wilson Ramos that required the Nationals’ management to fill a void at back-up catcher behind Jesus Flores. Much to the dismay of many, Leon would last just three full innings and one at-bat before having to leave the game with a high-ankle sprain. The catcher’s cleat seemed to get caught in the dirt during a collision with Chase Headley at home plate, ending a big-league stint for the young 23-year-old.
Following a trip to the 15-day DL and rehab assignment in Harrisburg, Leon would return to an off-and-on back-up role with the Nationals on July 19 against the Mets. In 12 total games played for the Nats, Leon batted for a commendable .267 average with two doubles, two RBIs, and four walks. The catcher tore up Double-A and Triple-A while he wasn’t with the Nationals, as he batted .322 with 19 doubles, 3 homeruns, and 26 runs in 64 game appearances.
Season Highlight: Certainly a July 22 game against the Braves for Leon, in which he went 1-4 with a double and 2 RBIs.