Call-up Leon has made huge strides last two seasons

Due to a torn right ACL sustained by starting catcher Wilson Ramos, another top prospect in the Nationals’ system will get a shot at the big leagues earlier than planned. But the Nationals are confident Sandy Leon is ready for this next challenge because of the talent he has shown on the field at Double-A Harrisburg.

Assistant general manager Bob Boone and assistant to the general manager Pat Corrales - both former major league catchers - have worked very hard to develop Leon and they have been impressed with his progress through the system.

This move would not have been made by GM Mike Rizzo if it wasn’t for the teachings of Boone, Corrales and others and their subsequent recommendations.

The 23-year old Leon is batting .319 with 10 doubles, one homer and 12 RBIs in 27 games. Leon was tops in the minor leagues last season in his ability to throw runners out. Leon has thrown out 133 of 261 (51 percent) runners attempting to steal during the last three seasons.

The Maracaibo, Venezuela, native attended his first big league camp with the Nationals this spring and made a very favorable impression.

A source within the organization told me last season that Leon and shortstop Rick Hague were the two prospects at high Single-A Potomac that would be the best bets to make it to the majors. Leon has continued to showcase a top-of-the-line work ethic, arriving early every day and working on fundamentals, defense at plate and throwing to second.

He flourished last year under Potomac manager Matt LeCroy, also a former major league catcher. With LeCroy moving with him to Double-A Harrisburg, Leon has spent three seasons learning his trade under a player who played his position at the highest level.

Leon has also studied the English language and has become fluent in the last two years. That has helped him communicate better with his pitchers and coaches and has helped accelerate his game to the point that he was completely big league-ready.

This call-up is a little earlier than might have been hoped, but was made because of the injury to Ramos. Leon, a 5-foot-11, 218-lb. backstop, has shown he can hit against the best Double-A prospects, and replaced Derek Norris as the Nationals’ top catching prospect.

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