Twenty-year-old catcher Pedro Severino continues to progress well in the Nationals system with his promotion to high Single-A Potomac this spring. There is a lot of buzz surrounding the young Dominican backstop, primarily for his solid defense and great hands.
The 6-foot-1, 180-lb. Severino started his first game with the P-Nats on Thursday at Carolina. He expects to get a ton of at-bats with Potomac to see now how his bat advances.
"He has got a real good swing," said Nationals vice president of player personnel Bob Boone, a former major league catcher. "I think it is going to play. I don't know how mature it is yet. But I am very comfortable in him advancing. I think he has a chance to hit.
"He can really catch and throw. He has got a chance to be a starting player depending on the bat, which is for everybody."
P-Nats starter Brett Mooneyham had Severino catch his games last season at low Single-A Hagerstown. Mooneyham went 10-3 with a 1.94 ERA for the Suns in 17 games and endorses the work Severino has put in to improve.
"He has got a bright future ahead of him," Mooneyham said. "Especially off the dish, to be in the big leagues, all you have to do is hit like between .200 to .250, if you are good enough behind the plate, which he definitely is. I thought during spring training he had a lot of at-bats where he looked a lot more polished at the plate.
"Didn't really use the opposite field much last year. His spray chart would have been pretty much from the foul line to gap in left-center with some bloopers over first and second. I saw him take some at-bats this spring training where he was hitting liners into the right-center field gap. I have never really seen him do that."
Mooneyham can also certify Severino's ability behind the plate in framing his pitches, and has statistical analysis to back up his claim.
"Behind the dish, he is awesome," Mooneyham said. "My host brother I lived with last year was one of the (stats) helpers up in the (press) box and he said in all minor league stadiums that used the same software, Severino was like second in all the minor leagues in getting balls outside of the strike zone called for strikes. I really like throwing to him a lot. He is wall back there. He has got a hose. I like the way he calls games. He learns quickly through the game."
Boone said Severino has quickl picked up how to get in a nice rhythm with his pitchers and that has helped move games along at a determined pace.
"Pedro is smart enough to know (the relationship with his pitcher) takes some time," Boone said. "He has a great chance. I am very high on Pedro. We are hoping he can swing the bat good again. The one asset he has got is such a good catcher, that the bat won't be as important. But if he is going to start in the big leagues, than it is going to be important."
Severino has worked diligently in the last season to not only get better at baseball, but also to learn a new language. He told me last season was extremely valuable because he was able to play 84 games for low Hagerstown, his most ever as a pro.
Boone said Severino and fellow Dominican Raudy Read have studied the English language diligently the past season, and have improved tremendously in speaking and conversing in their second language. Boone said Severino's command of English allowed his ebullient personality to emerge.
"In the beginning of the season, it was my first year, so I was (getting) comfortable," Severino said. "When I ended the season, I am better now because I know what is important. It is better because I am working all the (time)."