Most Nats fans are familiar with Carter Kieboom but his journey has been far from simple.
Kieboom was drafted in the first round of the 2016 MLB Draft from Walton High School in Georgia. His older brother Spencer was a 5th round selection by the Nationals in 2012 and appeared in 53 games from 2016 to 2018. Carter was originally drafted as a shortstop and had lofty expectation placed on him.
After a season in rookie ball, Carter broke out in 2017. He hit .297 with 9 home runs across 3 levels: rookie, low-A and high-A but was limited to only 61 games after battling injury. Kieboom followed 2017 up with another strong showing in 2018 batting .280 with 16 home runs across 123 games.
Carter was hitting minor league pitching well and was called up on April 26, 2019. I attended his major league debut and watched him hit his first major league home run which barely cleared the center field fence.
He also struck out swinging with the bases loaded in the ninth to end the game. I really thought that Carter was going to be one of our key pieces of the future. Unfortunately, mediocre play has been the theme of his career so far.
I wouldn’t call Carter Kieboom a bust because he is still only 25 years old, but I have been disappointed by his major league success so far or lack thereof. In 106 major league games he has batted a measly .197. Carter’s minor league success just hasn’t translated to the majors. He is what is now referred to as a AAAA player along with Jo Adell and a few others. They rake in the minors or are at least consistent but then can’t seem to get a hit when they reach the majors. Davey Martinez has commented on Kieboom’s problems in the past, saying that he needs to put the ball in play instead of fouling off pitches right down the middle. His defense has also been referenced by many as sub-par.
Many Nats fans were excited to see what Carter Kieboom would do in 2022 but his entire season was gone before it started due to Tommy John Surgery, an injury most notably occurring to pitchers.
Now the shortstop turned third baseman is playing at Triple-A Rochester and having a decent season batting .240 in 115 at bats. I think we will see Carter in the majors at some point this year especially if Jeimir Candalerio gets traded. While many doubt Kieboom’s abilities at the major league level, I simply think that he hasn’t had enough opportunity. In parts of three major league seasons, Carter has only amassed 414 at-bats. Jeimer Candelario already has half as many just this season and we are still a month and a half away from the halfway point.
I think that Carter Kieboom still has a lot left to prove. I don’t think you can be too judgmental especially with all of his injuries the last few years. If he stays healthy, I think he can put up some decent numbers and hopefully find major league success. If not, then add him to the list of high Nationals draft picks who didn’t meet expectations.