Nationals Notes: Kieboom To Start At Third, Denaburg Out, Cavalli In
By TC Zencka | July 4, 2020 at 12:08pm CDT
Speaking to a handful of DMV-area reporters, Nationalsâ€™ manager Davey Martinez said that he expects Carter Kieboom to be the starting third baseman, MASNâ€™s Mark Zuckerman, and Todd Dybas of NBC Sports were among those reporting. Itâ€™s a bit of a surprising revelation from Martinez, as last we heard, Kieboom wasnâ€™t even a sure thing to make the Opening Day roster. At the same time, most projections had the 22-year-old making his play for the hot corner by August, surely, so it might be that not much has changed in terms of organizational outlook. More on this and the other goings-on around Natsâ€™ campâ€¦
One change that might have affected the Natsâ€™ plan for Kieboom, however, was Ryan Zimmerman opting out for the season. Without Zimmerman, there seems to be plenty of at-bats to go around the remaining veteran contingent of Nationalsâ€™ infielders. First base should fall to a strict platoon between Howie Kendrick and Eric Thames, while the off-day first baseman is also likely to split time at DH with Asdrubal Cabrera. Starlin Castro, then, would handle second base relatively full-time while occasionally being spelled by either Cabrera or Kendrick. The Nationals tend to let their prospects play full time, so if Kieboom keeps the starting role through Opening Day, heâ€™s likely to get more-or-less the full slate of 60 games to prove he deserves it.
Updating some numbers for us, Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post mentions that the Nationals have about 49-50 guys in camp right now of the 58 currently named to the player pool. That said, the Natsâ€™ are widely expected to add first-round pick Cade Cavalli to their 60-man player pool shortly, per TalkNats. The Nats have a few open spots on their roster now that a number of players have opted out for the season (Ryan Zimmerman, Joe Ross, Welington Castillo).
As the Cavalli addition presupposes, the Nats have chosen to include most of the organizationâ€™s highest-regarded prospects in the 60-man player pool. That group would have included Mason Denaburg, were he not out for the season recovering from offseason surgery, per Stephen G. Mears of TalkNats. The 6â€™4â€ł former catcher ranks eighth on the Natsâ€™ top prospect list per Baseball America. He was the Natsâ€™ top draft choice in 2018, though heâ€™s managed just 20 1/3 innings of pro ball since then.