With the Nats Since: Signed by the Washington Nationals as an amateur free agent on January 21, 2007.
Just Who Is This Guy?: León is a backup catcher who made his Major League debut on May 14, 2012, the day after he was first called up. He went 0-for-1 with a strikeout in his debut but severely sprained his ankle during the game because of a home plate collision with Chase Headley of the San Diego Padres. (ed: We wrote about Sandy Leon, briefly, back in 2013.)
León came back later that season and finished off the year with a .267 batting average in 12 games. He had eight hits, scored two runs and drove in two RBI. He walked four times and struck out 11 times. León caught a total of 83.1 innings, making one error and allowed three passed balls.
Digging a little deeper into his catching stats, León is actually a decent catcher in terms of framing. In 2012, he had 663 chances to frame a pitch and earned 14 strikes extra for his pitcher based on his framing skills. That’s 4.4 extra runs added, which was good for No. 30 overall on Baseball Prospectus’ list of catchers for that year.
What Happened in 2013: During the 2013 campaign, León spent virtually all of the season in the minors. He played two games with the Nationals, logging one at-bat and struck out. He played three games with the Auburn Doubledays and didn’t do much, but was then promoted to Double-A Harrisburg and played in 95 games there. León batted .177/.291/.252 and hit three home runs and drove in 26 RBI. He walked 47 times, struck out 57 times and scored 35 runs. He even legged out a triple. In terms of defense, León committed six errors with Harrisburg and allowed nine passed balls.
What’s happening in 2014 so far?: I feel like I write this every time, but with the sheer amount of injuries that have pillaged the Nationals so far this season, León has gotten some playing time because of it. Filling in as the backup catcher (behind Jose Lobatón who was filling in for Wilson Ramos), León has a batting average of .170 in 16 games (as of June 22). He had one home run, three RBI and nine hits.
León’s defense has actually gone down from his 2012 season to his 2014 season in terms of advanced catching metrics. In 2014, he’s had 930 framing chances and only gained nine strikes extra from them, adding 2.9 runs.
During his 16 games at Triple-A Syracuse (when Ramos wasn’t injured), León is batting .294/.390/.392. He has yet to hit a home run but has drive in six RBI and has 15 hits. He has a perfect fielding percentage behind the plate and is 4-for-6 throwing runners out attempting to steal.
Overall, León is more of a defensive catcher than an offensive threat. The injuries to Ramos have given León an opportunity to showcase some of those skills, but he still needs some grooming in the minors at the plate. There is a good chance he’ll be going back down as soon as Wilson Ramos is healthy enough to catch again, which may be any day now.
*Note: All stats are as of June 22.