We have mentioned some of the placements for Nationals prospects to begin the season: Bryce Harper and Tyler Moore in Triple-A Syracuse, Sandy Leon and Jeff Kobernus at Double-A Harrisburg, and Matt Purke and Anthony Rendon at Single-A Potomac.
Another outstanding prospect that will move up from Potomac to Harrisburg this spring is outfielder Destin Hood, who had a tremendous campaign in Woodbridge, Va., last summer. Hood hit .276 in 128 games, with 29 doubles, five triples, 13 homers, 83 RBIs and 21 stolen bases. The Mobile, Ala., product had never stolen more than five bases in his previous three seasons.
The soon-to-be 22-year-old’s recent accolades on field include being named an MiLB.com Organizational All-Star, Carolina League midseason All-Star and Carolina League postseason All-Star. He’s ranked as the No. 8 prospect in the Nationals’ system.
Short-season Single-A Auburn Doubledays manager Gary Cathcart, who has worked with Hood and many others this spring training in Florida, has seen the quality of play in Hood’s game accelerate since 2010.
“You talk about somebody who is coming on quick,” Cathcart said. “Just in the last two years, his improvement is (impressive). He was a football guy with scholarship offers as a wide receiver and watching him become a baseball player with his athletic body has been worth it.”
Outfield coordinator Tony Tarasco said the Nationals have worked on taking some of the football tendencies out of Hood’s game when tracking the flight of the baseball.
“Destin came in with a below-average arm and was a wide receiver, so a lot of his routes as a youngster were pass patterns,” Tarasco said. “He has begun to circular his movements around a baseball diamond. The baseball diamond is straight lines, but when you run the bases, it’s circular movements.
“When you run in the outfield, a lot of the time it is not a direct line - there is a little bit of a curve to your route to ground balls or a line drive. He has gotten real good at (using curve running style to the ball). Hood, Michael Taylor and Randolph Oduber will work all three outfield positions in a batting practice session. They try to get better at all three positions.”
With all this work, Tarasco continues to see Hood making big improvements, even in the last few weeks.
“We have been concentrating on Destin’s throwing this spring training, improving his throwing from where it has already grown to,” Tarasco said. “He has gotten to the point now where I have watched him throw the ball where there are times he has an above-average arm, a major league arm. He has the correct mechanics when he uses his lower half to throw and when he relaxes the throw.”
Hood is rapidly advancing and he has earned his roster spot in Harrisburg.
“He has had an unbelievable spring training, coming off a great year in Potomac,” Cathcart said. “He is going to be an everyday player at Double-A at 22 years old. He has been as impressive anybody in camp. (Hood) is a young, higher-level outfielder who is making a jump.”