Results tagged ‘ Syracuse Chiefs ’

What to Watch for: 9.3.13

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

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

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

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.

Homecoming King

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

When Tanner Roark was recalled from Triple-A Syracuse a couple of weeks ago, it signified a lifelong goal achieved. At age 26, in his sixth full season of professional ball, he had finally reached the big leagues. And the way that the Nationals schedule shaped up, it meant a trip back to his home state of Illinois, with the chance to perhaps pitch at Wrigley Field, the park he grew up going to as a Cubs fan.

Roark’s brother Dillon took it upon himself to organize an outing for friends and family to see the pride of Wilmington, Ill. return home. A town of 5,757 people about 60 miles to the southwest of Chicago, Wilmington is a tight-knit community, but Dillon never expected the response to the Facebook invitation he put out a couple of weeks ago. Originally expecting just a handful of folks to make the trek, Dillon was overwhelmed when the event took on a life of its own.

The man of the hour, Roark signed dozens of autographs after the game.

The man of the hour, Roark signed dozens of autographs after the game.

By the time Wednesday night rolled around, the Wilmington faithful had filled two buses – 97 people in all – with an estimated 30-50 more caravanning in cars. In all, two to three percent of the entire town’s population, decked out mostly in Nationals red, hooted and hollered for much of the game from the right field bleachers.

“I had no idea it was going to be this big,” said Dillon after the game, standing on the street corner outside the gates, watching his brother swarmed amidst a mob of interview and photo requests.

Of course, Roark wasn’t the star of the evening simply for being on the team. While nobody could have planned it this way, he wound up entering the game in relief in the fifth inning. And while he admitted that the circumstances got to him a bit in his first inning, he escaped with the game tied 6-6.

“It was definitely nerves and adrenaline, both,” admitted Roark. “I know better, to calm myself down on the mound. To stop the hitting parade and just hit my spots.”

Another look at the mob that greeted Roark at the Wrigley Field gate.

Another look at the mob that greeted Roark at the Wrigley Field gate.

Roark returned to the hill for the sixth refocused and under control, striking out the top three batters in the Cubs lineup in order, sending his rooting section into a frenzy. In the top of the seventh, with two on, two outs and two strikes, Scott Hairston blasted a pinch-hit, three-run home run over the ivy-covered wall in left to put the Nationals back in front for good. In so doing, he also made Roark the pitcher of record, helping him earn the win.

Ben Stickel, one of Tanner’s friends “since they were babies,” was grinning ear-to-ear after the game, soaking in the whole experience. Having played baseball with Roark as kids, he could still barely believe what he had witnessed

“To see one of your buddies come out and step on a Major League baseball field, it just makes the story of the town,” he said. “Tanner’s a die-hard Cubs fan, ever since he’s been a little kid. A kid whose team he’s idolized his whole life, comes to Wrigley Field, steps on the mound, comes in and gets a win.”

Just the way everyone drew it up, right?

What to Watch for: 8.17.13

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

Washington Nationals (59-62) vs. Atlanta Braves (75-47)

RHP Stephen Strasburg (6-9, 2.83) vs. LHP Mike Minor (12-5, 2.87)

Stephen Strasburg takes the hill in Atlanta, six days after his first career complete game and shutout, a four-hit, 99-pitch masterpiece over the Philadelphia Phillies in which he walked just one and struck out 10. Tonight will mark Strasburg’s 12th start vs. Atlanta, his most against any opponent. In his 11 previous career outings against the Braves, Strasburg owns a 3.43 ERA (22 ER/57.2 IP), 70 strikeouts and a 3.5/1 strikeout-to-walk rate.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Denard Span CF

2. Anthony Rendon 2B

3. Ryan Zimmerman 3B

4. Jayson Werth RF

5. Ian Desmond SS

6. Wilson Ramos C

7. Tyler Moore 1B

8. Scott Hairston LF

9. Stephen Strasburg RHP

AS THE ROTATION TURNS

Through the last turn of the Nationals rotation, no Washington starter has allowed more than a single earned run in his respective start, with only two total earned runs allowed over the five games (0.58 ERA):

Stephen Strasburg: 9.0 IP, 0 ER

Gio Gonzalez: 4.0 IP, 0 ER

Jordan Zimmermann: 6.0 IP, 1 ER

Dan Haren: 6.0 IP, 1 ER

Taylor Jordan: 6.0 IP, 0 ER

MOORE, TYLER PLEASE

Tyler Moore was recalled from Triple-A Syracuse before tonight’s game and is in the starting lineup at first base. During his 45-game stint with the Chiefs, Moore compiled a .312/.395/.584 slash line, blasting 10 home runs and plating a whopping 46 RBI. Since the All-Star break, those numbers have been even better (.371/.451/.676).

SOMETHING IN THE GULF

The Gulf Coast League Nationals are a stunning 42-8 (.840) this season, which began June 21. With 10 games remaining on the schedule, the GCL Nationals have a shot at setting a mark for best winning percentage recorded by a domestic Short season/Rookie League team. The 1979 Paintsville Yankees (52-13, .800) of the Rookie-level Appalachian League hold the current record.

What to Watch for: 8.6.13

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

Atlanta Braves (68-45) vs. Washington Nationals (54-58)

RHP Julio Teheran (8-5, 3.02) vs. LHP Gio Gonzalez (7-4, 3.57) 

Tanner Roark’s 2013 season started about as well as he could have ever expected. The 27-year-old right-hander fired six no-hit innings in his debut for the Syracuse Chiefs, walking two and striking out seven in a road win at Lehigh Valley.

From there, though, the Wilmington, Illinois native struggled, before finally settling in and finding his groove in early May pitching out of the bullpen.

Since then, he’s been nearly unhittable.

Beginning with a scoreless inning at Durham on May 6, Roark made 17 relief appearances, holding opponents scoreless in 16 of them. He moved back into the rotation, where he made eight starts, winning six of them. He has just one loss since mid-April, and since that outing in Durham he is 8-1 with a 1.55 ERA (14 ER/81.1 IP).

All of that led to Roark’s promotion to the Major Leagues on Tuesday, when he was selected from the Chiefs and joined the Nationals in D.C. Twice a double-digit game winner in the minors, this marks Roark’s first time on a big league roster after six Minor League seasons. Originally a 25th-round pick by the Rangers out of the University of Illinois, Roark was acquired by the Nationals along with fellow hurler Ryan Tatusko in exchange for Cristian Guzman back on July 31, 2010. He has pitched in the Washington system ever since, but made huge strides forward this year, easily his best as a professional.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Harper LF

2. Zimmerman 3B

3. Werth RF

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Desmond SS

6. Ramos C

7. Span CF

8. Rendon 2B

9. Gonzalez LHP

CATCH THIS

Wilson Ramos is batting .320 (24-for-75) with three doubles, five home runs and 18 RBI in 21 games since returning from a left hamstring injury (missed 48 games during two stints on the disabled list). Ramos’ .906 OPS since his return on July 4 ranks third among big league catchers in that month-plus span, trailing only Milwaukee’s Jonathan Lucroy (1.071) and Atlanta’s Brian McCann (.943).

JULIO ARE YOU

The Nationals have hit opposing starter Julio Teheran fairly well over the last couple of years, including seven players sporting .333 or better averages against him:

Bernadina: .333 (1-3)

Desmond: .444 (4-9)

Harper: .400 (2-5, BB, HR)

LaRoche: .333 (2-6, 3 BB)

Span: .667 (6-9)

Tracy: .667 (2-3)

Werth: .333 (2-6)

GIOLOGY

Gio Gonzalez faces the Braves for the first time since June 1, when he allowed a run on just three hits over seven frames while striking out seven in a no decision at Turner Field. Gonzalez has matched his career high with 11 strikeouts in each of his last two home starts. The lefty has fanned 72 batters in his last 62.0 innings (10.45 K/9 IP), spanning 10 starts.

What to Watch for: 7.8.13

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

Washington Nationals (46-42) vs. Philadelphia Phillies (43-46)

RHP Dan Haren (4-9, 6.15) vs. LHP John Lannan (1-3, 5.15)

The Nationals finished a three-game sweep of the Padres to cap their final homestand before the All-Star break with a 5-2 mark. Washington will put its four-game winning streak on the line, opening a four-game set in Philadelphia Monday night before traveling to Miami for the final series of the season’s first half.

There’s plenty of other news in Washington, where Dan Haren will come off the Disabled List to make his first start since June 22. The Nationals placed left-hander Ross Detwiler on the 15-day disabled list earlier this week, and optioned Tyler Moore to Triple-A Syracuse to help make room for Haren. The other spot on the roster will be filled by veteran outfielder Scott Hairston, who was acquired for Ivan Pineyro, a right-handed pitcher who had been in Single-A in the Washington system.

The move was lauded by Nationals Manager Davey Johnson, who was happy with the extra depth he now has from the right side on his bench.

“He’s the kind of player we need,” said Johnson before Monday night’s game. “You need a veteran presence on the bench. He knows the pitchers, knows what he needs to do.”

Hairston certainly knows the Phillies well. He is 12-for-30 (.400) with five doubles and five home runs in his career against tomorrow’s scheduled starter, Cole Hamels. Hairston’s success against lefties (over .500 career slugging percentage) and particularly those in Philadelphia were two of the reasons the Nationals pulled the trigger on the trade prior to this series, according to Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo.

“He fit the parameters of what we were looking for in terms of the history of exactly what he was brought in here to do,” said Rizzo.

One other piece of news broke shortly before the game Monday night. Bryce Harper, already elected as the youngest National League starter in All-Star Game history, has been chosen by captain David Wright to participate in the 2013 Home Run Derby, taking place at 8:00 p.m. ET next Tuesday, July 15. Harper will be joined by Wright as well as Colorado Rockies outfielders Carlos Gonzalez and Michael Cuddyer.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Desmond SS

3. Harper LF

4. Zimmerman 3B

5. Werth RF

6. LaRoche 1B

7. Rendon 2B

8. Ramos C

9. Haren RHP

GRAND SLAMMIN’

This is Washington’s second of three visits to the City of Brotherly Love this season, but their second in 19 days. Ian Desmond’s 11th-inning grand slam on June 19 allowed the Nationals to claim the series finale of the three-gamer here, June 17-19. Desmond’s game-winning slam has sparked a 12-6 surge for the Nationals, who have sliced 3.0 games off the Braves lead in the NL East in that span.

GREAT SCOTT!

Scott Hairston is a .244 career hitter with 126 doubles, 103 home runs, 298 RBI and 289 runs scored in 10 big league seasons. He has a trio of 15-homer seasons to his credit, including a career-best 20-home run effort in 2012. Hairston’s average of one homer every 22.3 at-bats ranks 21st among active right-handed hitters (min. 2,500 plate appearances). Hairston was originally drafted in 2001 by Mike Rizzo, who at the time was Arizona’s Director of Scouting. Hairston’s older brother, Jerry Jr., played for the Nationals in 2011.

TRIUMPHANT TRIO

Stephen Strasburg (sixth, 2.45), Jordan Zimmermann (seventh, 2.57) and Gio Gonzalez (16th, 3.14) all rank among the NL’s top 20 in ERA this season. Among teams with at least three qualified starters, the Strasburg-Zimmermann-Gonzalez triumvirate is baseball’s best, as they’ve combined on a 2.67 ERA (104 ER/344.0 IP) this year. St. Louis (2.91 ERA from Adam Wainwright-Shelby Miller-Lance Lynn) and Cincinnati (3.16 ERA from Mike Leake-Mat Latos-Bronson Arroyo) rank second and third, respectively, on that list.

One Good Ross Deserves Another

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

The Nationals were expecting a lift from a player named Ross in this Colorado series, but it came a day earlier than anticipated. With the club slated to get Ross Detwiler back off the Disabled List on Thursday, it was Ross Ohlendorf – summoned from Triple-A Syracuse for a spot-start against a strong Rockies lineup at Coors Field – who provided an enormous performance Wednesday night.

Ohlendorf allowed just a single run on two hits over six innings of work as the Nationals emerged with a 5-1 victory to get back to the .500 mark at 32-32. The right-hander had enjoyed recent success at Syracuse, where he compiled a 1.56 ERA and 27 strikeouts over his final 17.1 innings of work. But his performance against the Rockies exceeded all reasonable expectations.

Ross Ohlendorf delivered a huge performance Wednesday night.

Ross Ohlendorf delivered a huge performance Wednesday night.

“I’ve been feeling really good all season,” said Ohlendorf, who has experienced a spike in his velocity and has seen his slider improve lately. “It’s the best I’ve felt in a long time.”

Ohlendorf had not pitched at Coors Field since July 28, 2010, when he was a member of the Pirates. With two outs in the first inning of that contest, Troy Tulowitzki ripped a liner back up the middle and off Ohledorf’s head, knocking him out of the ballgame. Nearly three years later, Ohlendorf took control in Denver.

“He used all his pitches, he went right after them,” said Davey Johnson when asked the most impressive aspect of the right-hander’s performance. “That ain’t easy in this ballpark.”

Johnson went on to indicate what the club made official today, that Ohlendorf’s tenure with the Nationals would last longer than just last night’s six sparkling innings.

“I’m going to try to find a way to keep him around,” Johnson said.

As Detwiler returns for Thursday’s start, the Nationals chose instead to option right-handed reliever Erik Davis to Triple-A Syracuse, where he will be available when the big league team again needs his services. Meanwhile, Ohlendorf will remain as the long man and emergency starter out of the Washington bullpen, giving the Nationals a Major League first.

With Detwiler’s activation, the Nationals become the first Major League team to ever employ a pair of players named Ross (though Ohlendorf’s first name is actually Curtis – Ross is his middle name). But that’s not the first bit of MLB history the two Ross’s have made. Detwiler’s first Major League start came at home against Pittsburgh on May 18, 2009, where he was opposed by none other than Ohlendorf, making them the first two players named Ross ever to face-off against one another in the Majors.

What to Watch for: 6.1.13

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

Washington Nationals (28-27) vs. Atlanta Braves (32-22)

LHP Gio Gonzalez (3-3, 3.90) vs. RHP Tim Hudson (4-4, 5.37)

The Nationals snagged the series opener for their third consecutive win over the Braves at Turner Field with a 3-2 victory Friday night. Tonight, they’ll send Gio Gonzalez to the mound, who notched a 2.48 ERA over his five May starts. The Braves will counter with Tim Hudson, who is 0-3 with an 8.69 ERA (19 ER/19.2 IP) over his last four outings.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Lombardozzi LF

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Desmond SS

6. Bernadina RF

7. Espinosa 2B

8. Suzuki C

9. Gonzalez LHP

IMPRESSIVE STAMMEN-A

Craig Stammen picked up the win last night with a career-high 4.0 perfect relief innings, in which he fanned three and retired all 12 batters faced. No reliever in Nationals (‘05-present) history has ever faced as many batters in an appearance without allowing a baserunner. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last reliever in Nationals/Expos franchise history to pitch 4.0 or more innings without allowing a baserunner was Sun-Woo Kim (13 batters in 4.1 IP) on May 10, 2004 vs. Kansas City. The longest such relief appearance in franchise history was posted by Jackie Brown (18 batters in 6.0 IP) on May 21, 1977 vs. San Diego.

WINNING MAY

The Nationals went 15-13 in May, which was no small feat considering they played 18 of their 28 games on the road. Dating to September 2011, the Nationals have played winning baseball in eight of the last nine months. Adam LaRoche led the way for the Nationals in nearly every offensive category, including average (.330), on-base percentage (.416), slugging percentage (.608), walks (15), hits (32), home runs (seven) and RBI (19).

GETTING THE CALL

The Nationals recalled right-handed pitcher Erik Davis from Triple-A Syracuse, who has pitched in 167 games over six Minor League seasons, but is wearing a Major League uniform for the first time. After going 8-3 with a 2.71 ERA and 74 strikeouts against 20 walks in 73.0 innings between Double-A Harrisburg and Syracuse last season, Davis was added to the 40-man roster this offseason. He went 1-2 with a 3.00 ERA (8 ER/24.0 IP) and 27 strikeouts with the Chiefs prior to his call-up.

Down on the Farm: Jeff Kobernus

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

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.

2012 Player Review: Tyler Moore

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

The Washington Nationals enjoyed unprecedented success in 2012, recording the best record in Major League Baseball. The team relied on the contributions of many different players, whom we will catalogue throughout the offseason as we look ahead to the 2013 campaign. Today, we look at another of Washington’s impressive rookies from 2012, Tyler Moore.

Amidst the impressive crop of Nationals rookies, perhaps none rose as suddenly into the collective fan consciousness from 2011 to 2012 as Tyler Moore. The soft-spoken Mississippi State product let his bat do the talking throughout his two prior seasons in the minors, where he was one of just two players to hit 30 or more home runs in back-to-back seasons. Despite largely coming off the bench for the Nationals in 2012, Moore showed that power streak was no fluke by blasting 10 roundtrippers in only 156 at-bats. Moore also had nine longballs in just 101 Triple-A at-bats over his two stints with the Syracuse Chiefs last year, giving him a combined home run rate of one per 13.5 at-bats, better than either of his previous two seasons (16.7, 16.2).

Tyler Moore swung Game 1 of the NLDS with this clutch pinch-hit.

Tyler Moore swung Game 1 of the NLDS with this clutch pinch-hit.

Moore’s Major League call-up was somewhat overshadowed. After all, Bryce Harper’s debut came less than 24 hours earlier, and Moore’s initial showing wasn’t his strongest, as he managed just three singles in 19 at-bats, striking out seven times without a walk before he was sent back to Triple-A. But in his second showing, Moore more than made up for his slow start. In his fourth game back with Washington, the 25-year-old blasted his first two Major League home runs, driving in five to key a 6-2 victory in Toronto that capped the Nats 6-0 road trip. He stuck in the Majors, and went on to post a .277/.349/.562 line with 19 of his 38 hits going for extra bases (nine 2B, 10 HR) following his second call-up. Moore’s bat, combined with his ability to play first base and his growth in left field made him a versatile option off of Davey Johnson’s bench as a member of the “Goon Squad.”

A former 16th-round draft choice, Moore received exactly one Postseason at-bat, and made the most of it. Washington trailed St. Louis 3-2 with two outs in the top of the eighth inning of Game 1 of the NLDS, but had Michael Morse at third and Ian Desmond at second. Johnson called upon Chad Tracy to pinch-hit, prompting Cardinals manager Mike Matheny to counter with his lone lefty reliever, Marc Rzepczynski. Davey re-countered with Moore, a righty. The rookie made Matheny pay for his strategy, driving a 2-2 fastball off the outside corner the opposite way for what would prove to be the game-winning, two-run single.

The 6’2”, 215-pound Moore will not be arbitration eligible until 2015, and he remains under team control through the 2018 season.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 549 other followers