Low Single-A Hagerstown third baseman Drew Ward is in the midst of a scorching run.
The 6-foot-4, 210 lb. lefty-hitting Ward had a 4-for-4 performance May 1. He hit a home run in that game and is batting .425 his last 10 games. In the first game of the doubleheader that day, Ward drew three walks.
Ward has made his way to pro ball similar to Bryce Harper's run - he did not go to college, graduating from high school early - so the 19-year-old is on a nice track.
So far this season for the Suns, the Leedey, Okla., product has gone 24-for-70 (.343) at the plate in 17 games. He has four doubles, one triple, three homers and a team-leading 23 RBIs, good for third in the South Atlantic League. Ward is hitting .452 with runners in scoring position.
These numbers will get Ward to high Single-A Potomac soon.
Update: Nationals director of player development Mark Scialabba provided this on Ward's progress:
"Drew Ward is certainly off the a great start, despite missing sometime due to a brief illness," Scialabba said. "A very mature, confident young man with a good eye and understanding of the strike zone. He leverages the baseball well, has plus power potential, and a quiet, calm patiently aggressive approach. He has a solid average arm and works diligently to make strides in all aspects at third base."
He has the physical stature to match the other top third baseman in the Nationals system, 6-foot-3, 225 lb. Matt Skole. Skole is in his first season back after Tommy John surgery last season. Prior to an 0-for-6 last two games, Skole had gone 8-for-31 (.258) over the previous eight games. Skole is starting to square up the ball again and hitting with authority after a slow start.
Update II: Scialabba also checked in on Skole's early season returns.
"Matt Skole unfortunately missed last season due to his injury, and he is starting to get his timing back at the plate," Scialabba said. "It is a work in progress, but he continues to show plus raw power to all fields. He continues to work on his approach to stay up the middle and drive the ball gap to gap, which is a key to his success. Matt also understands his ability to play both corners will provide himself with more value and versatility for the club, and he takes pride in improving his skills at third base."
Guys like Oscar Tejada (.314 last 10 games) and Sean Nicol (.302) have done well at third base in Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg, respectively. Skole is getting a lot of paying time at first base, as well.
But watch out for Ward, who is rising fast and showing that he can handle South Atlantic pitching early in this campaign.