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Kieboom breaks through for Nationals

No. 21 overall prospect reaches base four times in win
Carter Kieboom has reached base in six consecutive plate appearances for the Nationals. (Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
@AndrewAtBatt
July 30, 2020

The offensive prowess that carried Carter Kieboom through the Minor Leagues was on full display in The Show for the Nationals on Thursday. Baseball's No. 21 overall prospect reached base four times, going 2-for-2 with two walks and two runs scored to help lead Washington to a 6-4 victory over

The offensive prowess that carried Carter Kieboom through the Minor Leagues was on full display in The Show for the Nationals on Thursday.

Baseball's No. 21 overall prospect reached base four times, going 2-for-2 with two walks and two runs scored to help lead Washington to a 6-4 victory over Toronto at Nationals Park.

Kieboom, who had two hits over his first two games of the season, got his second straight start at third base and made the most of the opportunity.

Washington's top prospect had not started at third base in a Major League game before Wednesday, having had only 10 games of experience at the hot corner in the Minors last year. He remained perfect in the field with two sparkling plays in the fourth, including a diving stop that denied Rowdy Tellez of a hit.

“[I] felt good, I mean really good,” Kieboom told reporters after the game. “I wasn't playing a whole lot to start the season, so I had some fresh legs under me. I feel strong. I feel ready to go.”

In the second inning while on the shift, the 22-year-old also covered second on a steal, making a quick tag to nab Teoscar Hernandez and prevent the stolen bag.

"It definitely helps to have the experience of playing middle infield coming up in the Minors,” Kieboom said. “I've always kind of been over in that position -- maybe it's shortstop on the side of the bag or vs. second base, it doesn't really matter. I feel comfortable on either side at this point. You just plan ahead of time who's covering the bag. [Kurt] Suzuki made a really nice throw, made an easy pick for me and it was bang-bang and it was perfect."

At the plate, the 2016 first-round pick got things started with an eight-pitch walk against Hyun-Jin Ryu in the second before ambushing a first-pitch offering from the southpaw up the middle for a single to start the fourth. Kieboom scored two batters later on Michael A. Taylor's two-run dinger.

Patient against No. 23 Blue Jays prospect Thomas Hatch in the fifth, Kieboom drew his second free pass on seven pitches. In the eighth, he fell behind in the count against righty Wilmer Font and sent his second knock to the opposite field before scoring on a sacrifice fly by Trea Turner.

"I'm just trying to see the ball as deep as I can," Kieboom said. "That's kind of allowed me to swing at more strikes and get into a lot deeper counts. When you get two strikes, I'm trying to see it as deep as I can and battle up there and make them make a mistake and hope I can take advantage of it. Or make them spare off a couple of balls or whatever it is and draw a walk. They're grinding at-bats."

In his short three-game sample, Kieboom has reached and scored each time, going 4-for-9 with three walks and four runs. In two games at third, he still sports a 1.000 fielding percentage.

Nationals manager Dave Martinez told reporters after the game that he's been pleased with the way Kieboom has maintained a strong approach at the plate early this season. The infielder has reached base in six consecutive plate appearances.

“I love his discipline right now,” Martinez said. “The fact that he’s using the whole field right now is nice too. The key for him, as a young hitter, is to swing at strikes and not chase. He’s done a good job of that the last couple days. It’s good to see.”

The Georgia native has a career .287/.378/.469 slash line with 45 homers across 329 Minor League games and was an All-Star Futures Game selection in 2018 and 2019. He had an 11-game stint with the big club last year, when he had five hits, including one homer.

On the other side of the field, Hatch posted zeros in the run column again, allowing a hit and a walk while fanning one over 2 2/3 innings. The right-hander made his big league debut with 2 1/3 shutout frames against the Rays.

Hatch entered in the fifth with a runner at second and walked Kieboom, but avoided damage by getting Victor Robles to fly out to center. The 25-year-old came back out for the seventh and pitched around a leadoff single by Starlin Castro by getting Asdrubal Cabrera to bounce into a double play and Suzuki to line out to center.

Hatch has been unscored upon through his first five Major League frames.

Acquired from the Cubs in the David Phelps trade last July, the 2016 third-rounder maintained a 2.80 ERA and a 0.76 WHIP over 35 1/3 innings after joining Double-A New Hampshire.

In other action:

Royals 5, Tigers 3

Brady Singer held Detroit to two runs on five hits and a pair of walks with three punchouts in his second start of the season. Kansas City’s second-ranked prospect yielded solo shots to Miguel Cabrera and Jonathan Schoop while keeping his ERA to 3.60 after 10 innings this season. The No. 58 overall prospect also made an excellent pickoff move, nabbing JaCoby Jones at first base after his one-out single. No. 27 Royals prospect Nick Heath made his first big league appearance as a pinch-runner in the ninth. Tigers No. 26 prospect Kyle Funkhouser bounced back from a rough debut to pitch a scoreless ninth, working around a leadoff walk and striking out Salvador Perez. Box score

Red Sox 4, Mets 2

Andrés Giménez , baseball's No. 84 overall prospect, has appeared in all seven of New York's games this season. The club’s third-ranked prospect entered the contest as a pinch-runner for Robinson Cano after the veteran’s leadoff single in the seventh and stole his first base. The rookie had an opportunity to tie the game with the bases loaded and two outs the following frame, but bounced to first for the final out. Box score

Indians 2, Twins 0

Hard-throwing reliever James Karinchak earned his first Major League save with a spotless ninth, needing only six pitches. Cleveland's No. 14 prospect whiffed Max Kepler to start the frame before inducing consecutive popouts from Josh Donaldson and Jorge Polanco to seal the win. The right-hander has not allowed a hit, striking out five and walking two through four innings this season. No. 10 Twins prospect Lewis Thorpe allowed two hits and fanned one over two scoreless innings. Box score

Mariners 8, Angels 5

Another night meant more hits for for Seattle's No. 10 prospect Kyle Lewis. Batting third in the order and playing center, Lewis was hitless until the eighth, when he smacked a two-strike single up the middle against reliever Felix Pena. With two runners on in the ninth, Lewis delivered a two-RBI single to right off Kyle Keller. The outfielder is hitting .448 to start the season. Box score

Dodgers 6, D-backs 3

Los Angeles’ fifth-ranked prospect Brusdar Graterol fired off his third consecutive scoreless performance. The No. 82 overall prospect needed just eight pitches to record a punchout and get through a perfect eighth, lowering his ERA to 2.70 in 3 1/3 innings. Arizona's No. 3 prospect Daulton Varsho drew a walk from Pedro Baez in his first big league plate appearance. The No. 75 overall prospect entered as a pinch-hitter with two outs in the ninth and advanced to second on defensive indifference, but did not score. Box score

Andrew Battifarano is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter, @AndrewAtBatt.