While Jose Lobaton is the new Washington Nationals starting catcher, Pedro Severino is a name to keep an eye on as the new backup
Yesterday, the Washington Nationals got some bad news when they found out Wilson Ramos tore his ACL and will miss the rest of the season and postseason. With a torn ACL, it remains to be seen whether Ramos has played his last game in a curly W uniform.
Right now, Jose Lobaton is the starting catcher and should do a good job with his defense and pitch framing behind the plate despite the lack of offense he has. However, one name to keep an eye for the future of the Washington Nationals behind the plate is the current backup, Pedro Severino.
This season, the 23-year-old had a slash line of .271/.316/.337 with two home runs and 21 RBI’s for triple-A Syracuse. While it is a small sample size, Severino came up to the big leagues with some confidence. Over his final 18 games at triple-A, he hit .299 with five RBI’s,
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Severino’s numbers don’t exactly stand out at the minor league level, but he has made a good first impression in the big leagues. In 13 games in 2016, Severino had a slash line of .333/.462/.524 with one home run and three RBI’s.
As for his defense, he did only throw out 22% of baserunners trying to steal on him in triple-A (according to Baseball Reference). But, that doesn’t mean he has good defense behind the plate. Here is what MLB Pipeline wrote about Severino, who is their 14th ranked prospect in the Nats organization:
"“Scouts view Severino as one of the best defensive catchers in the Minors. His athleticism and agility make him an excellent blocker, and he receives raves from pitchers and coaches alike for his pitch-framing and overall receiving skills.”"
Heading into October, the question will be how much playing time Severino gets. Lobaton should be the starter because of his experience catching the veteran pitchers. But, might Severino get an opportunity early in the NLDS against Los Angeles? Here is what Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post wrote this morning:
"“If the Nationals choose to match up with lefties in the postseason, and no one has committed to that yet, Severino could be the right-handed hitting choice to face Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill in the first two games of the National League Division Series.”"
As Mark Zuckerman of MASN Sports wrote yesterday, Lobaton’s right elbow injury does play a factor in Severino getting some playing time. But, Lobaton does have some playoff experience. In 2013, he hit a walk-off home run in Game 3 of the ALDS against the Red Sox with the Rays. In a small sample size, Lobaton only has one hit in 15 at-bats against left-handed pitching this season.
Going into next season, Severino is a good option as one of the catchers because he has the experience of catching some of the young pitchers (Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez). Plus, he has had the chance to learn from some strong veterans in Ramos and Lobaton.
Now, Lobaton is going to get his fair share of at-bats the rest of the way, but this is a good opportunity for Severino to make his case to be a starter going into next season. If they don’t bring back Ramos and go with another veteran catcher to platoon with Severino, he could be a strong contributor to the Washington Nationals next year.