First baseman Tyler Moore has been the best longball hitter in the Nationals’ system the last two seasons, cranking 62 homers since 2010.
But if Moore gets blocked at first base, the Nationals have given him time to learn and pick up left field at instructional camp and will do so again in spring training.
Moore has worked very hard to improve his defense during the past two seasons, and Nationals infield coordinator Jeff Garber said the franchise has taken notice.
“He has made tremendous improvements (defensively),” Garber said. “He is getting more comfortable at first base. I know being as good offensively as he is, the versatility of playing left field and first base, that adds some value to him to be able to move around. He has come a long way since the first time I saw him coming out of college.
“He is getting more comfortable and getting more agile. He is getting more polished with his technique and the confidence continues to grow. He is doing a nice job.”
Coaches talk about it all the time. Some collegiate prospects must learn a lot of defensive techniques for the first time. In college, players practice hitting so much, that it is usually way ahead of their fielding.
“Kids are not fundamentally sound defensively in all areas and that is everywhere,” Garber said. “It is because the game has become so offensive and they value the offense has been so much more. So he just needed polish in every area and understanding of the fundamentals. He was just a offensive-minded guy, he was playable at the college level defensively. But playable there isn’t playable in the big leagues.”
Does he have the athletic ability to transfer to the outfield permanently?
“Oh, for sure,” Garber said. “Don’t judge the book by its cover. He runs better than what you think he does. He is more athletic than what you think he is. He is a big, strong bodied guy, but he can move around. He will be able to pick up the (outfield) techniques because that is the type person he is.”
Garber said Moore is the type of player who will adjust to a new position and excel because he already has the tools to succeed.
“Moore is the type of person who will maximize who he is. That is why he is where he is. He is a maximizer. Moore developed himself and I think he has enough athletic ability, speed and agility to go out there and be able to do fine (at the next level).”
With Chris Marrero nursing an injury, I still expect Moore to get a lot of time at first base in Triple-A Syracuse this season, but also a fair amount of at-bats playing the outfield, so he can become that Michael Morse-type player the Nationals could use at a couple of positions at the big league level in the near future.