Nats third base job belongs to Kieboom
Players have been in Summer Camp for two days, but Carter Kieboom already has earned the Nationals' third base job. Manager Dave Martinez announced Saturday that the team's top prospect will replace Anthony Rendon -- who signed as a free agent with the Angels last December -- when the Nationals
Players have been in Summer Camp for two days, but
Manager Dave Martinez announced Saturday that the team's top prospect will replace Anthony Rendon -- who signed as a free agent with the Angels last December -- when the Nationals are scheduled to open the season later this month.
"We’re definitely looking at Carter Kieboom to play third base for us," Martinez told MLB.com. “I just think in a 60-game season that he’s going to go out there and play every day.”
MLB Pipeline's No. 21 overall prospect spent most of last season at Triple-A Fresno but made his Major League debut in April 2019 and batted .128 with a pair of solo homers in 11 games. All of his playing time with the reigning World Series champions came at shortstop, and the Nationals had Kieboom work on his defense in the time since Spring Training was shut down due to the pandemic.
"One thing when we left, Bogie [bench coach Tim Bogar] talked to him, [third-base coach] Chip [Hale] talked to him about his footwork and really honing in on his footwork and getting his feet turned to where he’s going to throw at all times,” Martinez told MLB.com.
“There’s a game and then there’s practice,” Kieboom said in February. “You have a hitter vs. you have a coach hitting you the fungo. … The balls off the bat are different. You’re put in a situation where you’re having to make different plays than you ever have to make in practice. … It’s just different reads, it’s different judgments, it’s game speed.”
The 22-year-old had a career year in the Pacific Coast League, putting up a .303/.409/.493 slash line with 16 homers, three triples, 24 doubles, 79 RBIs and 79 runs scored in 109 games. He also drew 68 walks to rank seventh on the circuit in on-base percentage and was named an end-of-season PCL All-Star.
Selected 28th overall by the Nationals in the 2016 First-Year Player Draft, Kieboom had a breakout season in 2017, despite spending time on the injured list with a right hamstring ailment. In 48 games with Class A Hagerstown, he batted .296 with eight homers and 26 RBIs, then split the following year with Class A Advanced Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg, producing a .280/.357/.444 slash line with 16 homers and 69 RBIs in 123 games.
Kieboom is a two-time Futures Game selection and went 1-for-2 with a run scored for the National League last year in Cleveland. The Georgia native has been an MiLB.com Organization All-Star each of the last three seasons.
"I think offensively, he's still learning," Nationals assistant general manager for player development Mark Scialabba said last December. "His bat-to-ball skills are very strong. He's improved his patience at the plate. His ability to recognize pitches has improved. Much more disciplined this year. And looking to do damage to pitches he can drive."
Daren Smith is an editor for MiLB.com.