Washington Nationals minor league spotlight: Matt Skole

Washington Nationals minor league spotlight: Matt Skole
November 30, 2013, 12:45 pm
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Age on Opening Day 2014: 24

How acquired: Draft (5th round), June 2011

Position: Corner infielder

Prospect Rank: No. 4 in Nats’ org. (Baseball America)

2013 Team/Level: Harrisburg Senators (Double-A), Mesa Solar Sox (AFL)

2013 Stats: 2 G, 7 PA, 5 AB, R, H, 2B, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 2 SO, .200 BA, .429 OBP, .400 SLG, .829 OPS

2013 Analysis: Matt Skole played just two games with the Harrisburg Senators before a freak play at first forced him to undergo Tommy John surgery, a rare procedure for a position player. It saw him return in time to play in the Arizona Fall League, but bank only 17 total games in 2013. As one of the organization's top prospects - who is already 24 - it delayed his development and likely prevented him making his major league debut this season. Think of how many players the Nats had to call up unexpectedly, and Skole would have likely fit into that mix somehow, some way.

Skole saw most of his action with the Mesa Solar Sox and hit a whopping .375 through 49 AFL at-bats. The power numbers were impressive as well given the small sample size. Skole hit three home runs and drove in 7 RBI with a .429 slugging percentage. One other stat stands out for Skole, his 15 walks and 18 strikeouts in those 15 AFL games. The former standout at Georgia Tech is big with power and apparently has patience, too. His .290 career batting average in the minors and .410 OBP predict a bright future for the slugger.

2014 Outlook: As long as Skole continues to develop and play well, he has a place in the Nationals' plans for 2014. It is conceivable a strong beginning of the season in the minors could see him up in Washington by midseason. A roster spot out of spring training is of course possible, but it would seem he needs a little more seasoning in the minors to prove himself.

Skole's ability to play both third and first base is quite convenient looking forward for the Nationals. He appears to have more potential than Tyler Moore at this point and could line up for the starting first base job once Adam LaRoche's contract is up after next season. There is also the possibility Ryan Zimmerman makes a switch across the infield some day - whether it is imminent or not - so that flexibility to play both corners is ideal for the Nats.