Nationals high on outfielder Destin Hood’s athleticism (update)

Outfielder Destin Hood fought through injuries and sickness this season in the minors. Battling through an injured wrist, Hood managed to come back and get on track by the end of the season. The Alabama native is now playing in the instructional league.

Hood, a second-round selection in 2008, hit .242 in the minors for Double-A Harrisburg and a few rehab games at short-season Single-A Auburn, with 21 doubles, three triples, three homers, six stolen bases and 21 RBIs. He struck out 89 times in 94 games, so he would like to make more contact.

Nationals director of minor league operations Mark Scialabba said the organization is very high on the talent and skill Hood can bring to the table.

“He finished up the year very strong,” Scialabba said. “His numbers, obviously, weren’t want we expected at the end of the year. So what we are trying to do with Destin is we are trying to let him play and let his athleticism come out in his game, utilize his tools. Sometimes when you have injuries and you go through tough times in slumps you start to press and do too much.”

In the last 10 games, the 6-foot-1, 225 lb., Hood got into a nice groove, batting .324, including eight hits in his final five games. The Nationals would like him to play off that finish now and keep going under the tutelage of a dozen coaches in Viera, Fla.

“The last few weeks we were really impressed with the way he was running the bases and the way he was playing the outfield and the way he was squaring up the baseball,” Scialabba explained.

“What we want to see him do here is just have consistent at-bats, grind at-bats with two strikes, look for a good pitch to hit and leverage the baseball. We just want to let his athleticism come out and be the baseball player we know he can be.”

Update: In instructional league today, Hood homered while Steven Souza added a two-run double. Souza had three RBIs overall.

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