The Nationals lost a significant piece in their defense when Anthony Rendon decided to leave Washington for the Los Angeles Angels in free agency. Since his departure and the Nationals unable to land a free-agent, Carter Kieboom has become the heir apparent at third base.
MASN’s Mark Zuckerman joined Friday’s The Doc and Galdi Show on the Team 980/95.9 FM to assess how the highly lauded prospect has faired just three games into the preseason.
“The thing I would describe it as it’s pretty clearly a guy learning how to play third base who doesn’t have a lot of experience,” Zuckerman told ‘Doc’ Walker and Al Galdi. “When you see other guys take grounders, they just look smoother at it, and you can tell there are things that he’s going to have to pick up.”
The Nats insider emphasizes that a lack of reps and unfamiliarity with the position itself are what’s troubling the young star and have contributed to his two errors.
“The play the other day against the Yankees, it’s a chopper, he comes charging in on it, throws to first and the throw sails all the way into the dugout,” said Zuckerman. “And you can see it just wasn’t a comfortable play that he’s had to make, so he needs the reps and this is the time to put him out there.”
Zuckerman suggests not worry what about Kieboom’s error total and that the idea is to get him reps and practice so that he is more comfortable third base when the season rolls around. However, Zuckerman does share a major concern.
“The bigger concern is how does he handle that [attention and pressure],” Zuckerman questioned. “The team is going to be with that if he makes errors. Every play he makes and doesn’t make is going to be chronicle, so this is a real test to see how mentally strong he is, to understand he is the heir apparent to Anthony Rendon, that on a team full of veterans and star players, he is the new guy.”
Nationals manager Davey Martinez will have a tough decision to make at the end of camp on Kieboom. The Nationals are back in action Friday at 1 p.m. when they take on the Tampa Rays.