As we continue to preview the 2016 Washington Nationals, today we take a look at Matt Skole: another non-roster player who will be joining the big league club in Spring Training.
Prospect Matt Skole is one of the more intriguing non-roster invitees to Spring Training this year for the Nationals. Not long ago he appeared to be on the fast-track to the big leagues, but injury and subsequent struggles have somewhat derailed his trajectory.
Stole dominated at the plate when the Nationals drafted him in 2011. That year, he hit .290 with 48 RBIs, five home runs and 23 doubles in 72 games with Low-A Auburn.
In 2012, Skole was named the Nationals’ Minor League Player of the Year after batting .291 with 27 home runs and 104 RBIs in 119 combined games with Class A Hagerstown and High-A Potomac. Skole continued to impress in the Arizona Fall League later that year, posting a .305/.419/.525 line with four doubles, three home runs and 14 walks in 17 games.
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After his incredible 2012 campaign, many believed Skole was on the fast-track to the big leagues. The Nationals thought so too, and they promoted him to Double-A Harrisburg to start the 2013 season.
But, instead of continuing his climb up the Nationals’ farm system, Skole was involved in a nasty collision while making a defensive play at first base just two games into the season. Skole tore the UCL in his non-throwing elbow and underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery.
Things have been rough for Skole since the injury. He hit 14 home runs with 68 RBIs in 2014, but struggled to hit for average and went unprotected and unpicked in the Rule 5 Draft. Last year Skole’s power saw a resurgence as the 26-year-old slugger hit 20 home runs with 82 RBIs in Harrisburg and Syracuse. But Skole struggled after the team promoted him to Triple-A, with his batting average dropping to .238 with eight home runs and 26 RBIs in 42 games with the Chiefs.
Hopefully for Skole, he’ll have a chance to demonstrate that he is capable of hitting big league pitching this spring. And while he likely won’t make the team out of Spring Training, there’s a chance we’ll see Skole in a Nationals uniform at some point this season.