VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals catcher Pedro Severino was invited to big league Spring Training for the first time this year, and it looks like he feels right at home. The organization's 11th-best prospect, according to MLB.com, Severino is expected to start the season with Double-A Harrisburg.
While he is with the big club, Severino, 21, expects to learn his craft from veteran catchers such as Wilson Ramos, Jose Lobaton and Sandy Leon.
"I'm going to learn to communicate with the pitchers. I want to help them a lot," Severino said.
The Nats are very high on Severino, who is considered to be an exceptional defensive backstop. While playing for Class A Potomac last year, he threw out 36 percent of would-be basestealers. Severino also hit .247 with nine home runs and 36 RBIs in 94 games. After a slow start, Severino hit .308 after the All-Star break. He admitted that he was trying to hit the ball out of the park too often in the first half. After the break, he decided to change his approach at the plate, hitting the ball more to center and right field.
"During the second half, I see the ball and hit the ball," Severino said. "As I stand [in the batter's box], I see the ball better. ... I'm working in the cage and trying to hit the ball middle away."
Nationals vice president of player personnel Bob Boone believes Severino has a chance to become a Major League starting catcher one day.
"Pedro is real special with his talent behind the plate. His throwing arm is a plus, he blocks, he is learning to call a game," Boone said. "This year is going to be a good test for him."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.