Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos was kidnapped from his home in Valencia, Venezuela Wednesday, his Venezuelan Winter League team, Tigres de Aragua, has confirmed.
Ramos, the Nationals’ 24-year-old catcher was preparing to begin playing for the Venezuelan Winter League team this week while spending his offseason at home in Valencia with his family. According to a report in El Nacional and another in El Siglo, Ramos was approached by four “heavily armed gunmen” near his home around 7:30 p.m. local time on Wednesday.
He was with his family at the time of the abduction but was the only one kidnapped. A source close to Ramos’ family confirmed to The Washington Times that Ramos had been kidnapped and the family was awaiting a call from kidnappers. They had informed police.
Venezuelan Winter League president, Jose Grasso, told Ultimas Noticias Daily that “All police corps are working to solve Ramos’ case.”
Marfa Mata, a close family friend of Ramos’ who has helped him adjust to life in the United States and covers his team in Venezuela confirmed the news as well via twitter.
“Sorry to corroborate the information,” Mata tweeted in Spanish. “I hope the authorities can resolve the case quickly.”
A spokesman said that Major League Baseball was aware of and investigating the situation. Around midnight on Wednesday the Nationals had not yet issued a statement on the kidnapping.
Major League Baseball players have long been a target of kidnappings in Venezuela but it is believed that Ramos is the first major leaguer to be kidnapped himself. More often it is a player’s family who is targeted, usually for financial gain. Former major leaguer Victor Zambrano’s mother was kidnapped in in 2009, just a few months after the son of Texas catcher Yorvit Torrealba’s. Both Zambrano’s mother and Torrealba’s son were rescued from kidnappers.
A 2009 TIME Magazine article on the subject of kidnappings in Venezuela said the country had “the highest kidnapping rate in the Western Hemisphere” but that “98 percent of abductions result in a release, and most deaths usually result from a pre-existing medical condition.”
Ramos, the eldest of six children, is considered the “man of the house,” his mother, Maria Campos, told the Washington Times in September. Campos, along with Ramos’ sister Milanyela Ramos, visited the United States for the first time this past season. They watched Ramos play as a major leaguer for the first time and were able to visit with him during the season for the first time since he left home at 17 to sign with the Minnesota Twins.
It was a moment of great pride for Campos and Milanyela, one Campos called “a dream come true,” and she fought back tears as she spoke of the path Ramos had taken to reach this point.
Ramos is considered one of the Nationals best young players after a rookie season in which the catcher hit .267 with 15 home runs and is expected to garner some Rookie of the Year votes.
As news of Ramos’ kidnapping spread via Twitter and other avenues Wednesday night, several Nationals players tweeted out their support of their teammate.
“Extremely upsetting news about Ramo,” closer Drew Storen tweeted. “Thoughts and prayers are with him. Scary situation.”
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to Ramo and his family,” added reliever Tyler Clippard. “This is awful, I don’t know what to think.”
Several other players expressed similar sentiments for their beloved teammate.