It was a tremendous summer for Matt Skole.
He demonstrated his raw power over and over at low Single-A Hagerstown. Skole hit .286 in 101 games for the Suns, smacking 27 homers and recording 92 RBIs.
He then got moved up to high Single-A Potomac. He hit .314 for the P-Nats, with 11 extra-base hits, although no homers, and 12 RBIs.
The Nationals liked what they saw so much they gave him the opportunity to continue his season in the Arizona Fall League, where he played first base exclusively. In 17 games, he hit .305 with four doubles, three homers and 15 RBIs.
After his season at Potomac, Skole was named the Nationals’ minor league Player of the Year, and since, he was ranked as the Nats’ No. 4 prospect by Baseball America.
“He is a big man,” said Baseball America national writer Aaron Fitt. “He jumps out at you the first time you see him on the field. I remember Georgia Tech. He makes that instant impression. He looked like a man among boys in college. And he always produced the power at Georgia Tech. He drew his walks, the same thing he is doing in pro ball, but he is also a better defensive player.”
Fitt said Skole is a different hitter in the pros after spending almost an entire season under the tutelage of then-Hagerstown hitting coach Mark Harris, who made some slight adjustments to his swing.
“(Skole) has done some things to mold his swing that give you the feeling that he can hit for average,” Fitt said. “I don’t think he will ever be a batting title kind of guy. He gets on base. I like that combination of guys that can hit for power and draw a lot of walks.”
Fitt said that is the key for most players that hit for power - can they limit their strikeouts and still get on base? Skole drew 99 walks with 133 strikeouts, and his on-base percentage was a stunning .426.
“If you strike out a lot, (but) you are drawing walks, to me you are going to provide a lot of value,” Fitt said. “That is why I am so optimistic about this player. I know some scouts and talent evaluators don’t believe in his swing and still have questions.
“I think he is going to hit for power and get on base. I think he will be a serviceable defender at either corner. So I think there is a lot of value there.”
I think it is going to be another amazing summer for Skole and he will do very well at Double-A Harrisburg, which is where I believe he will begin. His willingness to play third and first base opens up a nice combination of Anthony Rendon at third and Skole at first. The fact that he hits left-handed only sweetens the pot for his bright future.