Washington Nationals prospect Carter Kiebom had a breakout season in the minor league this year. He could be a big part of the team’s future.
With Juan Soto and Victor Robles now with the Washington Nationals, Carter Kieboom is the organization’s top remaining prospect in the minors. The youngster is bound to have a big impact on the team’s future.
After a stellar season which started in High-A and ended in Double-A, Kieboom was named the team’s minor league player of the year. Between the two levels, he slashed .280/.357/.444 with 16 home runs, 31 doubles, and 69 RBI.
With numbers like that for someone in their first full season, at a premium position, he’s beginning to shoot up prospect rankings. In FanGraph’s latest rankings, they even had him ranked the 10th best prospect in all of baseball.
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Kieboom profiles as someone who will do everything really well, but none of his tools stand hand and shoulder above the rest, like Robles’ speed would, or Soto’s hit tool. It gives him a pretty safe floor as a prospect, but similar things were said about Anthony Rendon and look how he turned out.
However, the current dilemma is trying to figure out the best spot for him to succeed at the major league level in the not too distant future. They have a few different avenues they could go down with the short and long-term future of their prized prospect.
It’s hard to see Kieboom starting 2019 in the major leagues when there’s no open spot for him in the infield, and with only one full pro season under his belt, a little extra seasoning wouldn’t hurt. Yes, service time may be a factor, but there are more important reasons to keep him down to begin next year.
As things stand right now, the weakest spot in the infield is quite clearly second base, with Wilmer Difo and Howie Kendrick set to hold the fort down there if no other moves were made between now and March.
However, Kieboom has never played second base professionally, and Mike Rizzo has said before that they don’t want him coming up playing a new position straight away. He would have enough on his plate simply adapting to major league pitching, so if they want him to play second, expect him to get reps there in the Arizona Fall League, and to play there in the minors to begin 2019.
So while it looks like second base may be the best home for Carter Kieboom in the short-term, the Nats could easily have other plans. Having been on the left side of the infield his whole career, he could quite easily be primed to succeed Rendon after the 2019 season, or even Trea Turner further down the line.
But the real wildcard in all of this is the possibility that he could be traded this offseason for some more immediate help. Most notably, if the Nats can acquire J.T. Realmuto using Kieboom as the centerpiece, then they would likely take the Marlins up on that. They may also be prepared to part with the shortstop if a top half of the rotation starter were available, but he would only be traded away fora highly valuable asset.
The rapid development of Carter Kieboom in 2018 is going to force some tough decisions upon the Washington Nationals. But having too many good young players for spots in the lineup is never a bad problem to have these days.