I was in Cuba and oblivious to the outside world on March 23, the date when the Detroit Tigers returned Rule 5 pick up Jeff Kobernus to the Washington Nationals organization. The move didn’t have the flair of J.C. Romero or of an Opening Day roster announcement so I didn’t hear about it. In fact I didn’t know it happened until I was flipping through the Game Notes of the Syracuse Chiefs this weekend and saw his name there.
February 25, 2013; Clearwater, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers second baseman Jeff Kobernus (46) hits a single in the fifth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Bright House Networks Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Kobernus was a second round pick in 2009, and is seen as a potential utility infielder and wasn’t going to stick in Detroit, who actually traded a player to Boston for the right to see him up close. Not surprisingly, the Nationals took him back instead of trying to complete a trade. Kobernus doesn’t have the hype of an Anthony Rendon or Matt Skole but with his start so far in Syracuse, may be a better prospect than people give him credit for.
Through four games, Kobernus is 8/14 with one home run and five RBI. Not only that, but he also has drawn four walks for a pretty insane line of .571/.632/.786. Yes, it’s only four games, but last year was .282/.325/.333 in 82 games at AA Harrisburg so he isn’t completely useless with the bat. He was a piece that Washington probably wasn’t going to miss had he stuck with the Tigers but having him the organization is something that has the potential to be interesting.
The Nationals already have a utility infielder in Steve Lombardozzi who was extremely useful when the team had injuries to Jayson Werth and Ian Desmond. Having Kobernus, whose bat can still develop is a wild card the same way that having Corey Brown and Eury Perez is. You can never have too many players. The fact that Washington had so many players taken away in the Rule 5 draft is a testament to that. Kobernus may only be a bench player in the future, but his start in AAA should be raising some eyebrows.
I didn’t like the fact that Detroit had taken Kobernus, but the fact he is back in the fold and off to a strong start is nice to see. He may not have been heard of before (and maybe even after) he was taken away from the Nationals but it’s someone worth keeping an eye on.