Asked recently which of the young players in Nationals camp has drawn his eye, Manager Davey Johnson highlighted infield prospect Matt Skole, among others. Skole already caught the attention of some of his teammates, notably Jordan Zimmermann who called him ”a large animal” after the big left-hander hammered one of his fastballs over the fence during live batting practice more than two weeks ago.
Skole, a 2011 fifth-round pick out of Georgia Tech, is the Nationals’ reigning minor league player of the year, a distinction he earned for a torrid-hitting campaign in Class Hagerstown and Potomac. He led all Nationals minor leaguers with 27 home runs, slugged .559 and posted an OPS of .986. It earned him an invitation to major league camp and, so far, the Nationals have been pleased with his ability. They have played him near-daily, put him at first and third base and let him face a bunch of left-handed pitchers.
With Adam LaRoche entrenched at first base and Ryan Zimmerman at third, and their backups Tyler Moore and Chad Tracy are established, Skole has no shot to make the major league roster. He is headed back to minor league camp later this month but soaking as much of the experience as he can.
“It’s been fun for the most part, really, for me,” Skole said. “I’m just enjoying every minute of it. I’m just like learning a lot from all these guys, all these vets who’ve been up in the league for a while. I’m trying to just stay here as long as I can and learn as much as I can, pretty much keep my mouth shut and my ears open.”