After solid season with Suns, Hood ready for instructional league

Destin Hood, 20, is capping off a great season in Hagerstown by playing for the Nationals instructional league team in Viera, which begins play Thursday against the Braves.

The 6'1", 225-pound outfielder from Mobile, Alabama played in 129 games for the Suns, batting .285 with 30 doubles, three triples, five homers and 65 RBI, totalling 140 hits and 56 runs.

Hood struggled a little bit last season (batting .246 in 38 games with Vermont) so the Nats asked him to work hard to get into baseball shape in the offseason after being known as a two-sport athlete at St. Paul's Episcopal.

In 2008, Hood had a scholarship offer to play football for Alabama after a star-studded high school career as a wide receiver and defensive back for St. Paul's.

Nationals hitting instructor Rick Schu says Hood "worked his butt off all winter to get into baseball shape. In spring training, he transformed from an excellent athlete into a great baseball player.

"He did this by learning the game. His base running is better. His routes in the outfield are better. He is hitting great."

Schu says Hood didn't stop putting in the extra work once the season started in Class A.

"He is a kid that was showing up at the ballpark in Hagerstown at 11:30 in the morning getting extra hitting work with our hitting coach Tony Tarasco and that's before anyone got there.

"Then Destin would go to lunch and come back to the park for early work with the rest of squad and go through his day. He didn't miss a beat. He is a kid on a mission. He really developed into a good player this year."

Schu says the plan for Hood in Viera is to work with Tarasco on outfield drills and hitting. Tarasco is the outfield/base running coordinator for the Nats instructional league team.

The Nats have a talented corps of outfielders with Hood at the training facility for the next month, including top pick Bryce Harper, GCL MVP Randolph Oduber, Kevin Keyes, Wade Moore, Eury Perez and JP Ramirez.

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