With Brian Goodwin now on the disabled list, Andrew Stevenson will see some time in the Washington Nationals’ outfield. What value does the young outfielder provide?
Over the past few years, the Washington Nationals, and especially their outfield, have been extremely injury-prone. Unfortunately, that has remained true early in 2018.
Due to the plethora of injuries, the Nats’ organizational depth is being tested right out of the gate. Several under-the-radar players have gotten chances to prove themselves in the majors, such as Pedro Severino and Moises Sierra.
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Now, Andrew Stevenson will receive his opportunity.
Goodwin, who replaced Eaton in the outfield, was recently placed on the disabled list with a wrist injury. Until Goodwin or Eaton return, Sierra, Stevenson, Matt Adams, and Howie Kendrick will all see time in left field.
Of these outfielders, Stevenson is the most intriguing.
The former LSU standout is the Nats’ 12th-ranked prospect and debuted last year. In 37 major league games, Stevenson has hit .158 with two doubles and a stolen base.
While Stevenson was not very productive at the plate during his cup of coffee last year, he did not have much time to settle in. During his ascension through the minors, he initially struggled at each level. Then, after settling in and making the necessary adjustments, he began to rake.
Despite struggling at the plate, Stevenson made an enormous impact defensively. His speed rivals Trea Turner‘s, which is advantageous in the outfield.
As a matter of fact, Stevenson made a game-saving catch against the Marlins last August. The Nats had a one-run lead with two outs in the ninth and the tying run was on third. Dee Gordon poked a weak line drive into left field, which appeared to be a game-tying hit, but Stevenson made an incredible diving catch to end the game.
Stevenson makes up for any offensive woes with his lockdown defense in the outfield.
There is reason to believe that Stevenson will improve at the plate this year, though. Kevin Long worked with Stevenson this offseason, and the two made several adjustments to his swing.
Spring training results can be misleading, but Stevenson and Long’s work appeared to pay off. In 48 spring at-bats, Stevenson slashed .250/.308/.458 with two homers and four doubles. He also passed the eye test and looked like a much-improved hitter.
Now, Stevenson will split time in the outfield. Sierra has impressed, batting .278 in seven games, but Stevenson is much better defensively.
For an offense that has been lackluster at times and is lacking a spark, Stevenson can also create a run with his speed. Dave Martinez has experimented with batting the pitcher eighth, and Stevenson is a perfect guy to bat ninth.
Stevenson has gotten off to a slow start in Triple-A, batting .138 in eight games, but he can serve as a second leadoff hitter. When he is in the starting lineup, look for him to possibly bat ninth.
Stevenson is still young, at 23 years of age, and is still developing. He is not a great option at the moment, but has the potential to be an electrifying player. Until Eaton and Goodwin return, Stevenson deserves a chance to prove himself at the major league level.