With second baseman Brian Dozier agreeing to join the Nationals, infielder Carter Kieboom’s named bubbled to the surface again with many saying Dozier is just a placeholder for the prospect for one season or less. That’s high praise for Kieboom, who is just 21 and was a first-round selection in the 2016 draft.
Kieboom has done a nice job of demonstrating that he is closer to being ready for the responsibility of playing second base, and ultimately shortstop, in the major leagues in the near future for the Nationals.
Kieboom spoke at Nationals Winterfest about how hard he has worked this offseason and how he got valuable experience at second base during the Arizona Fall League, saying the club has “trust” in him to make that next step.
Baseball America has Kieboom as its No. 2 overall prospect in the Nats top 10. I asked national writer Carlos Collazo: Could Carter play in the majors this summer?
“Yeah, I think so,” Collazo said. “I mean he did really well in Double-A this year. He had a very impressive offensive season, especially if you take out his first month. He started off a little bit slow this season, but became more aggressive. I think that’s something the Nationals wanted to see, see him be more aggressive in the zone. He has the bat to ball skills and the power to really damage pitchers when he is doing that.”
Collazo said his team noticed that Carter did a nice job of showing that he had the footwork and defensive glove skills to handle himself at shortstop, and not just be a corner infielder.
“Previously, we’ve thought that Carter might be a guy that would have to move off third base just because of his size and (because) he’s not the quickest guy for a middle infielder,” Collazo said. “But I think he proved this year that he could stay at shortstop if there is an opening for him. But with his bat and with the Nationals already having Trea Turner at shortstop, I think he’s got more than enough baseball IQ and just the physical tools necessary to play second base.
“Obviously, most shortstops can make the transition to second base fairly easily if they have the footwork to turn the double play at second. I think Carter is a smart enough kid. He has the aptitude to be able to handle that pretty well and he’s got more than enough arm strength for the position.”
Collazo said it will be very easy to have Kieboom start his career at second base and then move to shortstop if and when an opening presents itself. It worked for the Braves.
“If the Nationals do feel like they need his bat this year, I think you could see him at some point, maybe the middle of the season or towards the end of the year,” Collazo said. “But again, the Nationals’ depth at shortstop in their farm system is very impressive. You see teams like the Braves who have had a couple of shortstops with Dansby Swanson and Ozzie Albies. Albies has been transitioned to second base just fine. It’s worked out pretty well for them.”