Growing up, Wilson helped put food on his family's table long before he got his signing bonus. He found a horse wandering the streets and collected money from neighborhood children for rides. He also caught tropical birds in a homemade trap baited with honey and sold them to a local pet store.
Those who know Wilson best call him "Pipo." Ramos is a nice guy, sensitive and kind. He is quiet by nature.
He loves to sit on the porch of his mother's house with his brothers and play with the neighborhood kids. He's always available for pictures and everyone in the community loves him.
He is the second oldest among the six children. He has four brothers and one sister. Not surprisingly, two of his younger brothers are also catchers.
In 2008, Baseball America rated Wilson as the third-best prospect in the Twins' organization. And that is exactly where they had Ramos a year later, in the spring of 2009: at #3 in the Twins' farm system. They moved Wilson up a notch in 2010, to second-best, behind only OF Aaron Hicks.
After coming to the Nationals' organization, they rated Wilson as the 5th-best prospect in their farm system in the winter before 2011 spring training.
During the offseason before 2009 spring training, Ramos led the Venezuelan League in RBIs with 49 during the regular season. Ramos finished in the top 10 in all three triple-crown categories—10th in average at .332 and third in home runs with 12 while playing for Aragua of the Venezuelan winter League.
Wilson will have to stay on top of his conditioning. His weight tends to get out of control and you have to be in shape or the wear and tear of catching will kill you.
November 9, 2011: Ramos was kidnapped in Venezuela. Four armed men went into his home in Santa Ines, 95 miles west of Caracas, and took Wilson away in an SUV at 6:45 p.m. Ramos was at home with his father and brothers when several men "entered the house and took him away."
The green SUV was found the next day, abandoned in a nearby town near Valencia. And on November 11, Venezuela police rescued Ramos via an air operation in a mountainous zone. Three men were arrested.
Ramos' mother celebrated, exclaiming on television: "Thanks to God!"
In 2013, before the season started, the Nationals said they were going to start Wilson Ramos off slowly because he was coming off a devastating knee injury sustained in May 2012 against the Reds. But to the surprise of many in the organization, Ramos was fully recovered by mid-March 2013.
Hitting coach Rick Eckstein noticed a change in Ramos. For one, Ramos lost about 15 pounds and was more mobile behind the plate. During Spring Training, Ramos said he would have never had the knee injury if he was in better shape. In 2012, Eckstein gave Ramos the nickname Buffalo. Now Ramos calls himself "Bison" because of the weight he lost before the season started.
"He is definitely in tip-top shape," Eckstein said. "Wilson has worked so hard this offseason to get back and be ready to go this spring. He has impressed everyone with his level of conditioning. He was on a strenuous program to be ready for the season. He hasn't skipped a beat. It's great to see. Wilson is a high-quality character guy that has tremendous talent."
August 5, 2014: Wilson's wife, Yeli, gave birth to their first child, a girl.
In 2014, Ramos won the 25th Tony Conigliaro Award, going to the player who demonstrated spirit, determination and courage. Ramos survived a kidnapping in his home country of Venezuela in 2011. Since then, he has come back from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, a broken hamate bone in his left hand and repeated hamstring strains.
Wilson was confident that 2015 is the year he can stay healthy after suffering a knee injury in 2012, hamstring injuries in 2013 and again in 2014 along with breaking his hamate bone in his left wrist.
He had not played 100 games since 2011, when he appeared in a career high 113. But Ramos stated his goal of catching 120 to 125 games in 2015.
Ramos, thanks to a recommendation by a doctor, did agility workouts during the offseason to strengthen his hamstrings. Instead of always running straight ahead for conditioning, he zig-zagged, ran sideways and backwards.
Ramos is looking to join an exclusive group. Just six catchers caught 120 games in 2014 while only three caught at least 130.
"I feel 100 percent," he said. "I feel like I'm running without problems. When I feel 100 percent when I'm running in the field, that's when I don't have any problems behind the plate." (Collier - mlb.com - 2/19/15)
In 2004, Ramos signed with the Twins out of his native Venezuela. He has played baseball in the United States every year since. His father Abraham, however, had never seen his son play in the Major Leagues. In fact, Ramos’s father had never been to the U.S. He got a visa to in 2014, but he couldn’t come, and Ramos was also injured and on the disabled list twice.
But finally, and for the first time in his life, Wilson had his father in the stands during Father’s Day weekend. Although Ramos wasn’t in the starting lineup, a day game off after a night game, his father has been in Washington most of the month of June. He watched his son catch a no-hitter on the 20th. He has watched his son play all month. (James Wagner/June 21, 2015)
Around 2013, Wilson's eye troubles first began, and he had been wearing contact lenses to try to help his vision. During his physical exam at the start of the 2016 spring, Dr. Keith Smithson, the Nationals director of Visual Performance, recommended Lasik surgery to Ramos, who admitted some initial apprehension considering Spring Training had just started. But Ramos became convinced after learning it was a quick surgery that would not sideline him for many days.
It is unclear just how much his vision problems affected him at the plate. His OPS+ has declined steadily during the past three years, (110 in 2013, 91 in 2014, and 64 in 2015). Although Ramos played a career-high 128 games during the 2015 season, he had a disappointing year offensively.
Ramos said he never thought he had any issues picking up the ball, and his most notable issues were when he looked out at the scoreboard and the numbers were blurry. The Nationals and Ramos are hoping this surgery will help him improve not only as a hitter but as a catcher as well.
"I'm wishing everything," he said. "I know it's going to help me behind the plate also. Sometimes I lose the ball in the lights, but right now I can see the difference. Probably it will help me behind the plate and in front of the plate also." (Collier - MLB.com - 3/6/16)
April 26-May 1, 2016: Ramos was on the bereavement list.
Wilson had been away from the club after the death of his grandfather, Jesus Campos. He was 79.
"Right now, I feel a little bit better," Ramos said after the game. "But it's still hard. The last couple days were very bad. Nobody wants to lose family. That's part of the life. You got to keep it going."
Campos had been battling illness for the past six years, and although Ramos had been told by doctors to prepare for the worst, he still said it was impossible to be ready. Ramos was close with his grandfather, working together with him at a fruit store when he was younger. Campos also taught Wilson how to play baseball.
"When I did it, he was very excited because that was his dream, to see his sons or me or my brothers," Ramos said. "But I did it. He was really really happy to see me here. Everybody here [on the Nationals team] gives me good support," Ramos said. "This is my other family. I know it's hard but I'm very happy to be here again because this is the only thing I can do to turn the page and do something different and not think too much. I'm happy to be here again." (Collier - MLB.com - 5/1/16)
The 25,138 fans at Nationals Park seemed to cheer the loudest when the public address announcer revealed that Wilson had made his first career All-Star team in 2016. And members of the Nationals' showered him with praise.
"Can't say enough about him and how he's done this year," Harper said. "I might be a little biased and stuff, but I think he should be starting."
And the honor is well deserved for Ramos after an impressive first half. On July 5, 2016, Wilson was second in the NL in batting average (.335) and led all Major League catchers in on-base percentage (.390), slugging percentage (.554), tied for the lead in homers (13) and RBIs (46). (Collier - MLB.com)
In 2016, Ramos led all MLB catchers in batting average, was second in slugging percentage (.496), and tied for third with 22 home runs. And he was #1 in WRC+ with 124.
"The Buffalo" will be roaming among the myriad names on the backs of Rays jerseys when the inaugural Players Weekend takes place Aug. 25-27, 2017. Wilson will have "The Buffalo" on the back of his jersey.
Ramos has owned the nickname since former Nationals teammate Ian Desmond anointed him with the moniker.
"I was catching one day, and it was one of those rough days," Ramos said. "I'm catching all kinds of heat. Balls were hitting me all over the place, and I'm getting bruises all over my arms. Ian tells me, 'I don't know how you do it. No matter what happens, you're always ready to go. You're a buffalo.'
And the name stuck. "Everybody started calling me Buffalo," said Ramos with a smile. "It's like Buffalo, Buffalo. And I liked it." (Chastain - mlb.com - 8/16/17)
July 2018: Ramos was selected to play in the MLB All-Star game. He decided not to play due to a recent injury.
Dec 18, 2018: For the first time in a long time, Ramos said he is not in rehab mode and is able to perform normal workouts. The last time Ramos went a full season without injury was 2015. But everything is different this 2018 offseason.
"I'm very happy to be doing everything. Rehab is bad. It's not fun. Right now, I'm 100 percent. I can do everything that I want," Ramos said. "I'm doing a lot of things -- running, agility stuff, lifting. I couldn't do that before because I was trying to get my knee stronger. Right now, it's totally different."
Ramos and Van Wagenen met during the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas, where they talked about Ramos' defense and his knee. After conducting extensive research on Ramos' medical files, Van Wagenen is convinced that Ramos can catch at least 120 games.
"Obviously, we did a physical examination on him," Van Wagenen said. "And we were able to get a really good detailed video of some of his workouts that he was doing this offseason. As he said, this is the first offseason in a long time he hasn't had to rehab an injury. … We were very comfortable with that, and he is extremely confident that he will be able to be the primary guy and be on the field for us next year." (B Ladson - MLB.com - Dec 18, 2018)
July 2004: Ramos signed with the Twins, via scout Jose Leon, out of Venezuela. He was just 16 years old, and his bonus was $27,000.
July 29, 2010: The Nationals sent RHP Matt Capps to the Twins, acquiring Ramos and LHP Joe Testa.
January 15, 2015: The Nats and Ramos avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $3.5 million for 2015.
January 15, 2016: The Nats and Ramos avoided arbitration, agreeing to a one-year contract for $5.3 million.
Nov 3, 2016: Ramos elected free agency.
Dec 12, 2016: The Ray signed free agent Ramos to a two-year $12.5 million contract.
July 31, 2018: The Phillies sent a player to be named, or cash, to the Rays, acquiring Wilson.
Oct 29, 2018: Ramos chose free agency.
- Dec. 16, 2018: The New York Mets agreed to a $19.5 million, two-year contract with free agent catcher Wilson Ramos
|Birth City:||Valencia, Venezuela|
|Draft:||2004 - Twins - Free agent|
Ramos is very strong. He has above average bat speed that enables him to hit with power to all fields. But his level swing plane provides more line drives than homers, with gap-to-gap power. He gets the barrel of the bat to the ball real well.
A free swinger, Wilson needs to improve his selectivity at the plate. Lack of plate discipline is a weakness. Being more selective would enable him to hit with more power. And he already is improving his ability to hit a curveball. Yes, he is aggressive, but he covers the plate well.
Ramos can get pull-oriented, but when he is "on" he can hit the ball as far as anybody. He has an uppercut stroke with good loft and leverage in his swing.
2016 Improvements: Wilson entered the All-Star break as the best-hitting catcher and the most improved hitter. Those are lofty claims, but they're both true, and we'll back them up with numbers shortly. For the moment, accept those truths so we can get right to the point: How in the world does a veteran catcher improve so drastically?
If you ask Ramos, it all came down to one choice, one the Washington backstop termed "the best decision I've made." In March, he underwent laser eye surgery, aimed at resolving vision issues that arose during his annual team physical.
"It helped me a lot to better recognize the pitches that are coming, helped me to not swing at pitches out of the zone," Ramos said. (Mike Petriello - MLB.com - July 2016)
July 10, 2018 : A homer put Ramos into a tie for the Rays' franchise record for homers by a catcher in one season. John Flaherty hit 14 in 1999.
- As of the start of the 2019 season, Ramos's career Major League stats were: .273 batting average, 1,197 hits, 109 home runs with 426 RBI in 2,726 at-bats.
Ramos has excellent catch-and-throw skills. He is agile for his size and has soft hands to receive the ball well.
He needs to improve his communication skills. He needs to be a better on-field leader, better at running the pitching staff and improve his game-management skills and handle his pitchers better.
- Wilson has a very strong, accurate arm.
In 2008, Florida State League managers voted Ramos as the best defensive catcher in the league.
THROWING OUT BASE-STEALERS
In 2007, Ramos threw out 41 percent of Midwest League base-runners who tried to steal a base.
In 2008, Wilson nailed 43 percent of Florida State League base-thieves, tops in the league.
In 2009, Ramos caught 42 percent of opposing Eastern League base-stealers.
In 2010, Wilson led the International League by throwing out 50 percent of runners trying to steal.
In 2011, Ramos's rookie year in the Majors, he showed his arm strength in nailing 28 percent of base-stealers (19 of 67 runners), third-best in the National League; and solid blocking skills by allowing just three passed balls in 952 innings.
Combining the years 2013 and 2014, Wilson had the 5th-best success rate of throwing out runners, nailing 33.3 percent.
In 2015, Wilson threw out 44% of guys trying to steal.
In 2016, he had a caught stealing rate of 37%.
In 2017, Ramos caught only 17% of attempting to steal -- nabbing only 6 of 35 runners.
Wilson maintains good intensity behind the plate. That allows him to bring his abilities/tools into games more consistently.
- Ramos caught Jordan Zimmermann's no-hitter in 2014, then accomplished a feat most catchers never will. In June 2015 he did it again. This time for Max Scherzer.
- Wilson has below average speed. But Ramos is even slower than most catchers. He is close to being a base-clogger.
- He is prone to hitting into double plays.
- August 2007: Ramos had his season end when he hurt his right thumb on an errant slide.
- May 8-early June 2009: Wilson was on the D.L. after he broke the tip of the middle finger on his (left) catching hand on a play where a pitch hit the righthanded batter’s forearm and caught him on the carom.
- June 19-August 12, 2009: Ramos was out of action for almost two months with a strained oblique.
- November 5, 2009: Wilson left a game in the Venezuelan Winter League with a knee injury. He had originally suffered the injury earlier in the week in a collision at home plate.
May 12, 2012: Ramos had to leave the game after his right knee buckled while he chased a passed ball. He was in a lot of pain when he was helped off the field and taken for an MRI to discover the extent of the damage.
It was a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. He missed most of the season after undergoing surgery on his right knee in May. He was really down, often crying after he realized that he would miss the rest of season.
But his family and friends were there to boost his spirits. Ramos said he is mentally strong because of them. For example, his mother, Maria Campos, came to Washington, D.C., from Venezuela and told Ramos, "You have to talk to God. You are a big man, you are strong. You need to come back. Go and do everything the doctor said."
Ramos received even bigger boosts from his younger siblings, Davey and Natanael, who revealed to their older brother that he was their hero for what he accomplished in the big leagues.
"I'm very proud of my family. They talked a lot with me," Ramos said. "They gave me a reason to work hard and come back strong. That was the best moment, when you feel you need more of your family. They were here when I needed them."
April 14-29, 2013: The Nationals placed Ramos on the 15-day disabled list with a left hamstring strain. Ramos injured himself running out a ground ball.
May 16-July 4, 2013: Ramos was back on the D.L. with another left hamstring strain. Wilson was mystified as to why he is having hamstring problems this season. He thinks it's because of his right knee, which was surgically repaired last year, resulting in him putting more pressure on the left leg.
April 2-May 7, 2014: Wilson required surgery to repair a broken hamate bone in his left hand and was expected to miss four to eight weeks. He suffered the injury during the Nats' Opening Day win over the Mets.
June 11-26, 2014: Ramos was on the D.L. with a right hamstring injury.
March 3, 2016: Ramos will miss at least a week of action because of Lasik surgery in Washington DC, according to manager Dusty Baker. Ramos found out he needed the surgery during his spring physical exam.
"We decided it was better [to have it] now than later," Baker said. He then jokingly added, "He will be able to hit now." (B Ladson - MLB.com - March 3, 2016)
September 27, 2016: Ramos tore his ACL and is out for the remainder of the season. Right on time to miss the playoffs.
October 14, 2016: Ramos had surgery on his right knee.
March 31-June 24, 2017: Wilson will begin the season on the 60-day disabled list with continued ACL rehab.
- July 15-Aug 15, 2018: Ramos was on the DL with left hammy strain.