The Nationals like what they have seen from a pair of infielders from Venezuela in their system.
Second baseman Andruw Monasterio came over from the Chicago Cubs late last season in the trade for Daniel Murphy. The 21-year-old from Caracas played 13 games for high Single-A Potomac. Nationals hitting coordinator Troy Gingrich laid eyes on him there and worked with him at instructional league. He was impressed with the youngster.
“He has a lot of ability, things he does well, certainly a good athlete,” Gingrich said. “He has a real good idea of the strike zone. He is a contact type of hitter, gap to gap guy. Hits for average. We ingrained in him this last month what kind of hitter he can be.”
With the Nats looking for second baseman, is Monasterio going to be locked into that position?
“No,” Gingrich said. “All of our infield guys play all infield positions, so wherever he projects is where (he will play). They all work out everywhere, so he got shortstop and third base while he was up with us at Potomac.”
Monasterio hit .308 in his new home and had a .404 on-base percentage. Prior to the trade, he hit .263 with a .359 OBP for Myrtle Beach.
One Cubs prognosticator referred to the trade as the Cubs “giving up next to nothing.” It would be interesting to see if the Nats can build Monasterio into a viable infield option after having to send Murphy to Chicago and prove that predictor wrong.
Shortstop Jose Sanchez, 18, from Villa de Cura, played 64 games for short-season Single-A Auburn. He hit .230 with a .309 OBP. Sanchez smacked nine doubles, one triple and had 23 RBIs. Gingrich says Sanchez demonstrates all the tools and just needs to build up core and upper body strength to make the next step to Single-A Hagerstown.
“He can. His glove is really good right now,” Gingrich said. “He just turned 18, so the biggest thing that we are talking to him about this offseason (is) getting stronger. Just get physical, add more strength. He’s got all the tools, now he just needs the strength to get into that body that will help push him a little bit more. I am excited for him. Hopefully, he will make that next step to Hagerstown next year, play shortstop there and play a little second base, too.”
At this juncture of development, the Nats will not force-feed a younger player to a position the big club might have need for right now, like second base. Carter Kieboom is playing second base in the Arizona Fall League. But that is different. Kieboom is further along in his development and could project to reach the upper levels this season.