A strained oblique last year cost him the final two months with Double-A New Britain, so the Twins weren't sure how to project their top catching prospect. He logged just 205 at-bats with the Rock Cats, bating .317/.341/.454 with 16 doubles.
"Did he really graduate from Double-A?" asked Mike Radcliff, vice president for player personnel. "The last look we got at him in July, we weren't so sure. We decided to see how he looks this winter and in the spring."
If that's the case, they may as well have played "Pomp and Circumstance" before each of Ramos' at-bats for Aragua, because the 22-year-old prospect crushed Venezuelan League pitching. He batted .332/.397/.582 with a dozen homers in 54 games and drove in a league-leading 49 runs.
"He can get pull-oriented, but when he's going good, he can hit balls as far as anyone," Radcliff said. The Twins believe Ramos will be effective at throwing out runners, and his opposite-field power to right may play well in Target Field.
His biggest weakness? "Communication. He's got to be a better on-field leader, better at running a pitching staff," Radcliff said. "He's still learning the language."
Ramos may have one more hurdle to clear before receiving a promotion to Triple-A. "We need to see how his body looks coming back. His weight has gotten out of control a couple of times," Radcliff said. "You've got to be in shape, or the wear and tear of catching will kill you."
Ramos could someday find his path blocked by American League MVP Joe Mauer, who is negotiating a long-term contract. Radcliff isn't worried. "It never works out the way you think," he said. "You always need more catching. Having two really good ones? Believe me, that wouldn't be a problem."
• Righthander Deolis Guerra's three starts for Magallanes gave the Twins reason for optimism about the 20-year-old's upcoming season. The lone remaining acquisition from the Johan Santana trade with the Mets, he allowed only one earned run over 11 innings in his final two starts. Even better: In 16 Venezuelan League innings, he walked just four batters.
• First baseman Brock Peterson, who bounced back from a .149 start in the first two months to bat .304 for Triple-A Rochester last season, signed a one-year deal to return to the Red Wings. The 49th-round draft pick had been a free agent.