Results tagged ‘ Jeff Kobernus ’

What to Watch for: 9.17.13 – Game Two

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Atlanta Braves (89-61) vs. Washington Nationals (80-70)

RHP Freddy Garcia (1-1, 1.32) vs. RHP Tanner Roark (6-0, 1.30)

(Note: Garcia is 4-6, 4.86 overall on the year)

In Game One of today’s twin bill, the Nationals jumped out to an early lead, only to watch Atlanta storm back to take a 5-3 advantage heading into the bottom of the ninth. Winless in six tries at home against the Braves this season, the Nationals put themselves in a position where they needed at least two runs to keep the game alive. Instead, they got three, becoming the first team in 225 tries to do as much damage against Braves closer Craig Kimbrel.

Adam LaRoche led off with a walk and Wilson Ramos followed by grinding out an eight-pitch at-bat, fighting back from 0-2 to drive a ball up the middle that second baseman Elliot Johnson got a glove to, but could not flip accurately to second base for the force. Jeff Kobernus ran for Ramos at first and Anthony Rendon drew another walk to load the bases with no outs for pinch-hitter Chad Tracy. The left-handed hitter pulled a hard chopper to first base, allowing LaRoche to score and cut the lead to one, the runners moving up to second and third.

Enter, Denard Span.

The center fielder had already extended his hitting streak to a career-high 27 games earlier in the afternoon, matching the longest streak in baseball this season. After taking ball one, he hit a grounder back up the middle, where the Braves defense was not playing in – playing not to lose, rather than to win. While the tying run would have scored on the play regardless, shortstop Andrelton Simmons pulled up on the ball, as it skipped through his legs untouched. Rendon motored around third to score behind Kobernus, and the Nationals snagged an enormous, 6-5 victory.

“I knew when I hit the ball, the game was tied for sure,” said Span after the raucous celebration on the Nationals Park infield. “For us to be able to get a win like that against their closer, and on our home field, it just felt really good.”

The win improved Washington’s record to 80-70, putting the Nats 10 games above .500 for the first time all season. It also staved off Atlanta’s chance to clinch the division title for another day, the NL East Magic Number remaining at four and the Reds second Wild Card elimination number still at eight.

Right-hander Tanner Roark will take the hill against veteran Freddy Garcia in the nightcap of the doubleheader.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Denard Span CF

2. Ryan Zimmerman 3B

3. Jayson Werth RF

4. Bryce Harper LF

5. Ian Desmond SS

6. Adam LaRoche  1B

7. Steve Lombardozzi 2B

8. Jhonatan Solano C

9. Tanner Roark RHP

HEAR ME, ROARK

Tanner Roark has been brilliant since his call up from Triple-A Syracuse, posting a 6-0 record in 11 appearances. Roark has won each of his first two starts, allowing two earned runs in 12.0 innings of work. He sports a 1.30 ERA overall (5 ER/34.2 IP) with 26 strikeouts and just eight walks.

WE’RE GOING STREAKING

Denard Span extended his career-best hitting streak to 27 straight games in Game One, matching Colorado’s Michael Cuddyer for the longest in Major League Baseball this year

Meanwhile, Wilson Ramos will see his stretch of consecutive starts behind the plate come to an end a 24 games with Jhonatan Solano in at catcher in Game Two. The streak is two games longer than the next closest in baseball this season (Yadier Molina, 22).

What to Watch for: 9.3.13

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Washington Nationals (69-68) vs. Philadelphia Phillies (63-75)

LHP Gio Gonzalez (8-6, 3.56) vs. RHP Ethan Martin (2-3, 6.39)

Washington completed its round of September call-ups by bringing five more players up from Triple-A Syracuse on Tuesday. In addition to recalling left-handed pitcher Xavier Cedeno, infielder/outfielder Jeff Kobernus and outfielders Corey Brown and Eury Perez, the Nationals also selected the contract of infielder Zach Walters. The Cheyenne, Wyoming native – who will turn 24 on Thursday – makes his first-ever appearance in the Major Leagues.

Manager Davey Johnson hinted that Walters might be one of the additions to the roster when the topic was broached last week. Johnson has liked Walters since Spring Training, when the switch-hitter received an invitation to Major League camp. The organization asked him to focus on hitting for more power this season, and after Walters delivered a couple of home runs in the spring – including a walk-off shot – he took that change in approach with him to the regular season.

“I’d never really thought about hitting for power,” said Walters. “But when Davey says to do something, you’d better do it twice.”

The adjustments paid off, as Walters led all players in the organization by blasting 29 home runs, after hitting just 25 through his first three professional seasons combined. He added 32 doubles and five triples to that total, sending 54 percent of his hits for extra bases and improving on his previous career-best slugging percentage by 60 points.

“I liked him in the spring,” said Johnson of the young infielder, who played mostly shortstop this year. “He went out and expressed that talent.”

Walters also has a sense of humor, which he revealed when joking about the role that Johnson may have outlined for him for the month of September.

“Powerade mixes…probably blue tonight,” he quipped. “Guys like their seeds in alphabetical order.” 

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Denard Span CF

2. Ryan Zimmerman 3B

3. Bryce Harper LF

4. Jayson Werth RF

5. Ian Desmond SS

6. Adam LaRoche 1B

7. Wilson Ramos C

8. Anthony Rendon 2B

9. Gio Gonzalez LHP

GO GO GIO

The Nationals have won both times Gio Gonzalez has taken the hill against Philadelphia this season, including a 7-3 win in Philadelphia on July 10. Gonzalez is 1-0 with a 1.93 ERA (3 ER/14.0 IP) with four walks and 16 strikeouts in those two outings.

ROAD WARRIOR

Ryan Zimmerman blasted his 16th home run of the season last night, 12 of which have come away from Nationals Park. Zimmerman has hit multiple home runs at three visiting parks – Camden Yards (3), Petco Park (2) and Citizens Bank Park (2).

BACK IN FAMILIAR TERRITORY

Even with his 0-for-4 last night, Jayson Werth is batting .415/.468/.707 with four home runs and 11 RBI in 11 games vs. the Phillies this season. Three of those four home runs have come at Citizens Bank Park, the only ballpark outside of Washington in which Werth has homered more than once this season.

Not A Minor Accomplishment

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The Washington Nationals farm system hasn’t so much met expectations in 2013 as it’s surpassed every one.

Ranked the No. 13 farm system overall in the preseason by Baseball America, the Nationals have surged to the third-best organizational record at 403-322 (.558) overall, trailing only Houston (.572) and San Francisco (.564). Three of Washington’s seven affiliates are playoff-bound, with a fourth in a close division race.

None of this is entirely unexpected either. Under the guidance of President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo, the Nats have gone from the Minor League cellar six years ago to a brief stint at No. 1 in last year’s Baseball America preseason rankings. Not to mention that this farm system has cultivated such talent as Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg and Anthony Rendon. In fact, 11 players on Washington’s active roster have come through its Minor League system.

Lucas Giolito, Washington's top pick in 2012, was recently promoted to Short-Season Auburn.

Lucas Giolito, Washington’s top pick in 2012, was recently promoted to Short-Season Auburn.

Perhaps most remarkable has been the Gulf Coast League Nationals, which have notched the most impressive mark in all of professional baseball. Since the season began on June 21, the Rookie-level entry has gone 48-9 (.842), better than even the tremendous run by the Los Angeles Dodgers, who posted a 47-12 (.797) record in the same span. The GCL Nationals lead their division by 24.0 games, have 13 more wins than the next best team in the league, and clinched their playoff spot long ago.

Obviously, such a run requires more than just luck. The GCL Nationals are tops in the league in most meaningful statistical categories. Their 2.49 team ERA and .279 team batting average pace the field, while their 5.52 runs per game is more than six-tenths of a run better than the next closest total. They boast the league’s leader and runner-up in ERA among qualifiers, 21-year-old righty Wander Suero (8-1, 1.65) and 20-year-old southpaw Hector Silvestre (7-0, 1.82). Righty Lucas Giolito, the Nationals’ No. 2 prospect, drafted 16th overall out of high school in 2012, has returned from Tommy John surgery and was recently promoted to Short-Season Auburn in the New York-Penn League after notching a 2.78 ERA and 25 strikeouts over 22.2 innings in the Gulf Coast League.

Like the GCL Nats, the High-A Potomac Nationals have put up ridiculous numbers in the Carolina League. Potomac is 81-51 overall, having already locked up a playoff spot by winning the Northern Division’s first-half championship with a 42-27 record. They’re currently 7.5 games up on Lynchburg in the second half, and will earn home-field advantage in all three Carolina League Division Series contests if they secure the second half title as well.

Walters has shown great pop for a middle infielder, sitting on the brink of a 30-home run season.

Zach Walters has shown great pop for a middle infielder, sitting on the brink of a 30-home run season.

Cutter Dykstra has helped pace Potomac on its most recent tear. During the P-Nats recent 10-game winning streak (August 10-20), the infielder racked up a .316/.447/.421 line. He also reached base in a league-best 29 games, putting together an 18-game hitting streak in the process. Meanwhile, right-hander Blake Schwartz is 11-4 with a 2.56 ERA and leads the league with a 1.03 WHIP.

The Low-A Hagerstown Suns (77-53) are also headed to the postseason, while the Double-A Harrisburg Senators (72-63) are a half-game up in their Eastern League division, where the top two teams reach the playoffs. The Suns are pacing the South Atlantic League with 5.03 runs per game, benefitting from a fairly balanced lineup. They’ve also recently added 2013 draft pick Jake Johansen, who was 1-1 with a 1.06 ERA and a 9.4 K/9 rate with Auburn. The Senators, meanwhile, boast a pitching staff that leads the league with a 3.46 ERA. Nationals third-rated prospect A.J. Cole — who earned the save in the 2013 Futures Game — is sitting at 3-2 with a 2.58 ERA since being promoted in late July.

Though the Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs have posted just a 65-72 record, they have their bright spots as well in prospects like Jeff Kobernus and Zach Walters. Kobernus served a brief stint in the big leagues and earned International League Player of the Week honors for the week of August 12-18. He leads the team and is second among Nationals farmhands with a .324 batting average. Walters, meanwhile, has slugged 29 home runs, 10 more than the next closest total in the organization. The infielder has posted a .531 slugging percentage on the season, especially impressive from the shortstop position.

Back-to-Back, Back-to-Back

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After a pair of comeback attempts had come up just shy the previous two nights, the Nationals faced the tall order of trying to beat Cliff Lee Wednesday night in Philadelphia. That challenge appeared particularly daunting as Lee, named to the All-Star Game last week, entered the contest riding an eight-game winning streak, including a 4-2 decision just a few weeks prior over Washington at Citizens Bank Park.

After four scoreless innings to open the game, Lee sat at 135.2 innings pitched for the year, having allowed just nine home runs all season. He quickly got ahead of Anthony Rendon 0-2 to start the fifth. And then, out of nowhere, a quick flip of the rookie’s wrists sent the next pitch into the first row in the left field bleachers. Two pitches later, Wilson Ramos rode an outside fastball to the opposite field and out for a solo shot of his own. Just like that, 2-0 Nationals.

But Washington wasn’t done there. The very next inning, nearly the exact same scenario played out once more. Ryan Zimmerman fell behind 0-2 leading off the inning. Then he turned around an elevated fastball and crushed it to deep left-center to make it 3-0. Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz tossed Lee a new baseball, which Jayson Werth promptly deposited into the left field seats on the first pitch of his at-bat. Back-to-back home runs in back-to back-innings.

Of course, you may remember that Lee’s only other game allowing multiple home runs this season was that start against the Nationals, when both Werth and Jeff Kobernus took him deep for the only Washington scoring of the game. But for those of you whose only knowledge of Lee has come from that other Nationals game, you may have a skewed view of just how stingy he normally is when it comes to the longball. By the end of the night, Lee had the following astounding split:

123.2 innings pitched vs. rest of the league – seven home runs

15.0 innings pitched vs. the Nationals – six home runs

That means the Philadelphia southpaw holds the rest of baseball to just 0.5 home runs per nine innings pitched. Meanwhile, the Nationals are averaging 3.6 big flies per nine frames against him.

With four games left on the final road swing before the All-Star break, it was a good sign that the Nationals have brought their newfound high-scoring offense on the road with them.

What to Watch for: 6.19.13

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Washington Nationals (34-36) vs. Philadelphia Phillies (35-37)

LHP Gio Gonzalez (3-3, 3.40) vs. RHP Kyle Kendrick (6-4, 3.76)

The Nationals wrap up their nine-game, three-city road swing, concluding a stretch of 38 games in which 28 have been on the road. Gio Gonzalez will look to get back in the win column for the first time since May 5 at Pittsburgh. Gio’s lack of victories over his past seven outings has been no fault of his own, however, as he has posted a sterling 2.12 ERA (11 ER/46.2 IP), a 1.07 WHIP and a .185 batting average against over that stretch.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Rendon 2B

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Werth RF

6. Desmond SS

7. Lombardozzi LF

8. Suzuki C

9. Gonzalez LHP

BENCH (IM)PRESS

Including Jeff Kobernus’ pinch-homer in the eighth inning last night, Washington’s bench (including all players not starting on any given day) is 5-for-13 with a double, three home runs and three RBI in the last five contests. Chad Tracy contributed two of the aforementioned home runs, a game-tying pinch-homer in the ninth inning of Saturday’s win at Cleveland and a game-tying blast in the ninth inning on Monday at Philadelphia.

SINGLE CRUISES

The Nationals have blasted eight home runs in their last four contests, all of which were hit with the bases empty (eight of the nine homers hit on this road trip have been solo shots). In all 39 of the 63 homers Washington has hit this season (62%) have been solo trips around the bases. 10 teams in the Major Leagues have higher percentages of solo homers in 2013, paced by Philadelphia (72%, 49/68).

THE ROOKIE IS RAKING

Anthony Rendon has reached base safely in 16 straight MLB games, pocketing a .462 on-base percentage (22 hits, eight walks) during astretch that spans two stints with the Nationals. During this stretch, the rookie posted a career-best 10-game hit streak from May 2-June 16.

What to Watch for: 6.8.13

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Minnesota Twins (26-31) vs. Washington Nationals (29-30)

RHP Kevin Correia (5-4, 4.09) vs. LHP Gio Gonzalez (3-3, 3.64) 

After two rainouts, the Nationals are ready to get back on the field as they welcome the Minnesota Twins to Washington for the first time since 1971 in the first of a three-game set. Exactly a week after his last start in Atlanta where he received a no decision, despite only allowing one run on three hits, Gio Gonzalez takes the mound again, looking to replicate his stellar performance.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Werth RF

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Desmond SS

6. Rendon 2B

7. Bernadina LF

8. Suzuki C

9. Gonzalez LHP

YOUTH IS SERVED HERE

At the completion of play on June 4, the Nationals had the fourth-youngest 25-man roster in Major League Baseball with an average age of 28.11 years. When combining each team’s active roster and Disabled List, Washington is tied for the second-youngest MLB roster at 27.74 years. Of the 32 players either on the Nationals active roster or DL, nine are aged 25 or younger: Nathan Karns (25), Wilson Ramos (25), Drew Storen (25), Steve Lombardozzi (24), Stephen Strasburg (24), Jeff Kobernus (24), Anthony Rendon (23), Ian Krol (22), Bryce Harper (20).

THE NEWEST NEOPHYTE NATIONAL

Ian Krol struck out three (Daniel Murphy, David Wright, Lucas Duda) during a scoreless sixth inning in an impressive MLB debut for the Nationals on Wednesday. vs. NYM. Krol became the fifth Nationals to make an MLB debut this season. Krol joined Anthony Rendon (April 21 at NYM), Jeff Kobernus (May 25 vs. PHI), Nathan Karns (May 28 vs. BAL) and Erik Davis (June 2 at ATL) on this list. Only three teams in MLB have had more players make MLB debuts this season: Cardinals (7), Marlins (6), Twins (6).

SAINT ANTHONY

Anthony Rendon was selected by the Nationals two years (June 6, 2011) with the sixth overall selection in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft out of Rice University. During a pair of big league stints, Rendon has played in nine games for the Nationals this season. The only other position player from the ‘11 Draft to have played in more MLB games is Boston’s Jackie Bradley, Jr. (19).

Another Arm in the Stable

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When fans of teams other than the Nationals think of Washington’s recent First-Year Player Draft history, they tend to focus on the pair of No. 1 overall picks, Stephen Strasburg from 2009 and Bryce Harper a year later.

However, Nationals fans know as well as anyone how important the second round of the draft can be. They drafted Jordan Zimmermann in the second round in 2007 out of little-known Wisconsin-Stevens Point, and two years later found another big leaguer in the recently promoted Jeff Kobernus. When their first pick came around at No. 68 this year, took the route they traveled six years ago, again daring to dream on a powerful, right-handed arm from a small school in Jake Johansen, a 6-foot-6 hurler out of Dallas Baptist University.

Johansen gives the Nationals another powerful, right-handed arm.

Johansen gives the Nationals another powerful, right-handed arm. (Paul Metzgar/Dallas Baptist)

There were differing opinions of Johansen from the draft experts, but ESPN’s resident guru Keith Law had the Allen, Texas native ranked 63rd on his board heading into Thursday night. The Nationals liked what they saw, especially Director of Scouting Kris Kline, who watched Johansen pitch twice in games this year before inviting him to a workout in D.C. earlier this week.

“This is what we seek when we go out to the ballpark every day,” said Kline of finding a player like Johansen among the countless hours of driving around the country scouting amateur players.

Kline does not like to make Major League comparisons when discussing draft selections, but he conceded that Johansen’s arm action and delivery very were similar to that of Josh Beckett, another hard-throwing Texan.

With a fastball that can top out in triple digits, Johansen’s upside is obvious. Kline says he usually sits around 94 with his fastball, which is complemented by a pair of breaking balls – a hard cutter/slider that he throws around 88-90 and a curveball. Kline suggests that the former is already an out pitch, but sees both developing as the Nationals coaching staff gets a chance to work with him.

“There’s no reason why, with a few tweaks from our staff, this guy can’t be a front-line guy,” said Kline, who went on to compare him to Washington’s first selection in last year’s draft. “If you put him next to (Lucas) Giolito, you’ve got some pretty good-looking bookends.”

Of course, the Nationals had the different experience of patiently sitting through more than four hours of proceedings before they could finally make their pick. While that’s a good thing in the larger view of it all – drafting later means you’re performing better on the field at the Major League level – it was nonetheless a relief to finally be able to choose the player they hoped would be available after all that time.

“I’m glad he fell into our laps at 68,” said Kline. “When I called him up, I said, ‘Are you as excited as I am? I’ve been waiting all night for this.’”

The 2013 First-Year Player Draft continues Friday at 1 p.m. with selection number 74. The Nationals next selection does not come until the 105th pick.

What to Watch for: 5.26.13

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Philadelphia Phillies (24-25) vs. Washington Nationals (25-24)

LHP Cole Hamels (1-7, 4.45) vs. RHP Stephen Strasburg (2-5, 2.66) 

The Nationals fell 5-3 last night, despite outhitting the Phillies 11-6, but turn to Stephen Strasburg in the series rubber match, as Ross Detwiler moves two slots in the rotation. With Detwiler set to return Tuesday, the team looks to put it all together on offense today against a struggling Cole Hamels.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Harper RF

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Desmond SS

6. Moore LF

7. Solano C

8. Lombardozzi 2B

9. Strasburg RHP

DAN THE DOUBLE-DIGIT MAN

By fanning 10 on Saturday vs. Philadelphia, Dan Haren became the first Nationals pitcher to record a double-digit strikeout effort not only this season, but since Edwin Jackson punched out 10 Cardinals on August 30, 2012 in D.C. Washington starters went 80 games between double-digit strikeout tallies. Haren’s 14 career games of 10+ punch outs is the most among current Nationals. The remainder of the staff has 18 combined 10+ K efforts: Stephen Strasburg (8), Gio Gonzalez (7), Jordan Zimmermann (3)

2ND TO ONE

With Jeff Kobernus’ Major League debut on Saturday, he became the second Nationals second-round draft selection to reach the big leagues. The first was Jordan Zimmermann, who is 32-28 with a 3.24 ERA in 91 starts for Washington since being tabbed with the 67th-overall selection in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft out of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

BABY STEPS

With 10 hits on Friday and 11 more on Saturday, the Nationals have recorded consecutive double-digit hit totals for the first time since doing so in three straight contests, April 9-11 vs. the White Sox (13, 11, 10).

What to Watch for: 5.25.13

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Philadelphia Phillies (23-25) vs. Washington Nationals (25-23)

RHP Jonathan Pettibone (3-0, 3.00) vs. RHP Dan Haren (4-5, 5.44)

The Nationals go for their third straight win as they face the Phillies in the second of a three-game series. After a two-out rally in the fifth last night, the team looks to continue their offensive success and hand Jonathan Pettibone his first loss of the 2013 season. In addition, the Nationals selected infielder/outfielder Jeff Kobernus from Triple-A Syracuse and designated right-handed pitcher Yunesky Maya for assignment.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Harper RF

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Desmond SS

6. Suzuki C

7. Moore LF

8. Lombardozzi 2B

9. Haren RHP

21 LETTERS DOOM THE PHILLIES: ZIMMERMANN & LOMBARDOZZI

Steve Lombardozzi sparked the Nationals 10-hit attack with three hits, the last of which was a two-run double that capped the scoring. Jordan Zimmermann became the National League’s first eight-game winner by allowing just two runs on six hits in 7.0 innings. Washington took the lead for good thanks to a four-run fifth, which matched their largest single-inning output of this season.

STINGY WITH THE LONG BALL

Nationals pitchers rank fifth in Major League Baseball, having allowed only 39 home runs this season (0.83 per 9.0 innings). Last season, Washington ranked second in MLB in fewest home runs allowed (120) and homers allowed per 9.0 innings (0.79 per 9.0 innings).

CATT’S MEOW

Steve McCatty’s starting staff has fashioned a 3.24 ERA this season that currently ranks third in MLB behind only the Cardinals (2.64) and Reds (3.21).

Down on the Farm: Jeff Kobernus

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The Rule 5 Draft is one of the most intricately constructed of baseball’s many minutiae. It exists to give veteran Minor League players who are not on their team’s 40-man roster a chance to make another team’s Major League roster. However, if the players aren’t able to break camp with their new team, they are given back to their original club. Four Nationals Minor Leaguers were taken by other teams in last offseason’s draft, but two were returned in the final week of Spring Training, including the 50th overall selection in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, Jeff Kobernus.

The UC Berkeley product batted .220/.291/.300 with a pair of triples and three RBI in 50 at-bats this spring for Detroit, and was thought by many to be a fairly strong candidate to make the 25-man roster out of camp as a reserve player. Instead, he rejoined an ever-strengthening Nationals Minor League squad at Triple-A Syracuse.

Kobernus is off to a scorching start since his return to the Nationals.

Kobernus is off to a scorching start since his return to the Nationals. (Will Bentzel)

It is easy to see the tool that stands out the most in Kobernus’ game by looking at his stat line. The speedster has swiped 95 bases while being caught just 19 times over the past two seasons, good for an 83 percent success rate. But he has also maintained his other offensive numbers steadily as he has progressed through the system each year, despite missing time to injury.

“He’s a toolsy player who can run, swing the bat, play second base,” said Nationals Assistant GM Bryan Minniti of Kobernus.

After playing almost entirely at second base throughout his career, the Tigers began trying Kobernus in the outfield this spring. After all, their infield was full, and the 24-year-old’s athleticism and speed seemed to profile well for such a switch. Clearly, the Nationals saw the same in Kobernus when they first selected him back in 2009.

“There are some guys where that’s the only tool they have and that gets them to the big leagues,” Minniti explained of Kobernus’ speed. “Jeff has more than just one tool that can play in the big leagues.”

Kobernus’ ability to take his talents and use them in multiple spots around the field may be key in his advancement. With a Nationals squad fairly deep at most positions, it’s an asset to be a player able to fill in anywhere around the diamond.

“It helps you for when there’s a time that a position needs to be filled,” said Kobernus of his versatility. “It doesn’t necessarily have to be the one position that you play. If you can play multiple, it gives you a better chance of being able to go up there and stay up there.”

Kobernus need only look as far as Steve Lombardozzi to see his theory in action. A second baseman throughout his minor league career, Lombardozzi was able to stick in the majors last year thanks to his versatility, particularly at third base and in left field.

Kobernus has taken full advantage of his current situation, bursting out of the gates to post an absurd .579/.625/.885 slash line with a triple, a home run, eight runs scored, six RBI and three steals in his first five games with the Chiefs. And while he was understandably disappointed not to make a Major League club out of camp just yet, the experience he gained – especially in terms of mental preparation – was invaluable.

“It was really fun seeing all the big-name guys over there, how they work, how they go about their business,” he said. “Not just preparing for a season, but preparing expecting to get to the World Series.”

That experience will no doubt serve him well as he strives to make it to the Major League level on a Nationals squad filled with many of the same expectations.

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