Three Nationals prospects learning new spots as accelerated development program begins

The Nationals’ accelerated development roster confirmed the club’s confidence in positional changes for Justin Miller and Kevin Keyes.

Miller and Keyes worked at new positions during October’s instructional league workouts. Miller switched from the infield to catcher and Keyes from the outfield to first base. Miller is listed as a catcher and Keyes as first baseman on the roster released last week for accelerated development camp in Viera, Fla.

With the unfortunate news that Spencer Kieboom is out for the season due to Tommy John surgery, Miller’s switch to catcher becomes even more critical to organizational depth at the position. Clemson product Kieboom was a fifth-round selection in the 2012 draft.

Miller hit .245 in 116 games for low Single-A Hagerstown in 2012, hitting 25 doubles, four triples, 13 stolen bases, 10 homers and 67 RBIs.

Keyes had 21 homers and 78 RBIs last season for high Single-A Potomac, although he would love to cut down on 108 strikeouts and improve on .223 average. First base makes sense for him, with a 6-foot-3, 225-lb. frame, and he should do a very good job.

All these changes also follow in the Nationals’ attempt to add position versatility to several of their prospects. Players like Steve Lombardozzi, Tyler Moore and Matt Skole added other positions to their resumes and have helped their games and ascension to the next level.

Another player who will make a position change in this week’s accelerated development program is Estarlin Martinez.

Martinez hit .319 in 66 games for short-season Single-A Auburn last season, with 16 doubles, two triples, 13 stolen bases, five homers and 44 RBIs.

He has been switched from infield to a corner outfield spot and will get a chance to play left field this season. Martinez will turn 21 on March 8 and the Dominican product is 6-foot-1 and 185 lbs.

With the frame, youth, tools and talent Martinez offers, and the Nationals’ penchant for stocking quality outfielders, he could make some big-time noise in Hagerstown and beyond. He will be fun to watch.

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