Washington Nationals: Wilmer Difo Off To Great Start In Winter Ball


During his first 13 games in winter ball, Washington Nationals infielder Wilmer Difo is having good success

The 2016 season did not end well for Wilmer Difo as he made the final out for the Washington Nationals when he struck out against Clayton Kershaw in Game 5 of the NLDS. Heading into 2017, Difo is likely to play a critical role on the Nats bench as a utility player.

Right now, Difo is down in the Dominican Republic playing winter ball for Gigantes del Cibao in the Winter League. Over his first 13 games, the 24-year-old is hitting .340 with 11 RBI’s. On Tuesday night, he had a RBI single against Roenis Elias in a 4-1 win for Cibao. Then, last night, he hit a solo home run in the third inning, his first of the league season. Currently, Cibao is 26-22 and in first place in the overall standings.

So far this offseason, some of the Washington Nationals hitters have had good success in the winter leagues. Andrew Stevenson was one of the best players in the Arizona Fall League. Stevenson and Difo are two of the Nats hitters with ten or more RBI’s in winter ball (Jose Marmolejos-Diaz and Matt Skole are the other two).

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Difo’s best game of the winter so far was on December 1 against Licey when he went 4-for-6 with three RBI’s in an 11-6 win. He had a RBI single in the third and a two-run double in the fifth. Difo has had five multi-hit games in his last ten, including that aforementioned four hit game.

While Difo has not played in as many Winter League games as other players, his numbers still stack up favorably. His 11 RBI’s are one of eight players on the Cibao team with double-digit RBI totals. Plus, he has more hits than any other shortstop on the squad.

The interesting thing to look at is that Difo is playing shortstop in the Dominican League. With Trea Turner set to be the starting shortstop in 2017, Difo will probably be the backup barring the Nats signing another free agent to help the infield. But, as everyone saw last season, Difo can also play second base and third base when Daniel Murphy or Anthony Rendon need a day off.

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While I think Difo is ranked too high by Baseball America (number four on their Nats top ten prospect list), he is a player that had a strong season at double-A Harrisburg in 2016 before being promoted to the big leagues. In 2017, Difo is going to play a big role in this bench as a defensive option in the infield as well as his speed on the bases.