Nationals prospect Matt Skole was named the South Atlantic League Player of the Year today, after racking up 27 home runs and 92 RBIs for the low Single-A Hagerstown Suns this season.
Skole told reporters in Zebulon, N.C., what an honor it was to receive the Most Valuable Player award.
"I was really excited. It felt great," he said. "I was happy for myself and the way I played in that league. It is a very prestigious award."
The 2011 fifth-round selection out of Georgia Tech played 101 games for the Suns and hit .286.
Even though Skole was promoted to high Single-A Potomac on Aug. 14, he still is the league leader in home runs, walks (94), on-base percentage (.438) and slugging percentage (.574).
Skole said the coaching staff at Hagerstown played a major role in his development.
"I can't say enough thanks to my manager, Brian Daubach, my hitting coach, Mark Harris, and my infield coach, (Jeff Garber)," Skole told reporters. "They just help me so much throughout the season. It is unreal the progress I made this season so far."
He also thanked his many teammates, including Steven Souza, Jr., Brian Goodwin, Cutter Dykstra, Jason Martinson and others, for being crucial to his success this season.
"Those guys were huge in my success, getting on base and helping me drive in runs," Skole told reporters. "Guys like Souza, Marty and Cutter, those guys have been there before and been through long seasons. They helped me day by day. I can't say enough about those guys as my teammates and people."
With the kind of eye-popping Tyler Moore-esque numbers Skole was putting up at the beginning of the year, you had to expect him to get promoted earlier. But the Nationals' heavy talent at third base, with players like Anthony Rendon, delayed his arrival at Potomac.
Skole feels this has been a very worthwhile season and he is excited about that next step with the Nationals.
"I have learned a lot about the mental aspect and the physical aspect of the game," he said. "It has been a grind, especially in August. I learned a lot about myself, my swing and the type of player I am and what I need to do to succeed every day in this game."
Skole and the P-Nats are facing a must-win situation over their final five games of the season and must hope Wilmington turns and loses their last four. Potomac has a say in the proceedings, facing the Blue Rocks three times in the final weekend series of the season.
Update: P-Nats lost to Carolina 3-1 and have been eliminated from playoff contention.