On Thursday afternoon, the Washington Nationals announced the names of the 20 players that are invited to Spring Training in Viera, Florida as non-roster invitees. While some players have better chances than others of making the 40-man roster Opening Day, we want to give you, the reader, a look at all of these players in case they turn out to be Spring Training surprises.
In case you missed it yesterday, checkout Co-Editor Ricky Keeler’s profile of catcher Spencer Kieboom here. Today we’ll be focusing on another catcher that received an invitation to big league camp, Pedro Severino. Severino, who spent all of last season with High-A Potomac, will not make the Opening Day roster, but he made some solid strides in 2014 and is definitely a player to keep an eye on this spring.
The Nationals signed Severino for $55,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2010. He was just 16 years old at the time and had only been catching for four months after playing several different positions throughout his childhood. Now, five years later, Severino has developed into the best catcher in the Nationals’ farm system and has the potential to continue to develop into the team’s catcher of the future.
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After two years with the Nationals’ Gulf Coast League affiliate, Severino became a household name within the Nationals’ farm system with Class A Hagerstown in 2013. That year, Severino–who is known mostly for his defense–showed his elite ability in 82 games behind the plate for the Suns by throwing out 40 percent of would-be basestealers.
While his defensive ability has never been in question, Severino has struggled with the bat throughout his career. That said, it’s important to keep in mind that Severino is still just 21 years old and his bat has plenty of time to come around. In fact, his offense has already shown plenty of improvement over the last few years.
After hitting .183 and .220 in his first two seasons in the minors, Severino’s offense improved significantly in 2013 when he hit .241 with 19 doubles and 45 RBIs. Severino was even better after being promoted to Potomac last season, hitting a career-high .247 with nine home runs, 41 runs scored and 36 RBIs.
At just 21 years old, there’s no doubt that Severino has the potential to become an elite catcher at the big league level. If his offense can come around to complement his already exemplary defense behind the plate, there’s no telling what Severino’s ceiling might be with the Nationals.
We probably won’t see him contribute at the big league level this year, but it’ll definitely be interesting to see how he performs against big league pitching this spring. Severino should continue his climb up the Nationals’ farm system in 2015, and in a few years’ time, we may very well see him crouching behind home plate at Nationals Park.