Nov 19, 2013, 12:02 PM EDT
Age on Opening Day 2014: 25
How acquired: Draft (2nd round), June 2009
MLB service time: 63 days
2013 salary+bonuses: N/A
Contract status: Arbitration-eligible in 2017, free agent in 2020
2013 Stats: 24 G, 36 PA, 30 AB, 8 R, 5 H, HR, RBI, 3 SB, 2 CS, 5 BB, 6 SO, .167 BA, .572 OPS, -0.1 WAR
2013 analysis: Returned to the Nationals from Detroit via the Rule 5 Draft in March, Jeff Kobernus himself probably didn’t expect to make an impact at the major league level this season. Injuries, however, created a void for the Nationals, and Kobernus’ versatility as an infielder and outfielder made him attractive for a call-up. The Cal product ended up playing with 24 games and showed his impressive range of tools, but never really got a chance for regular at-bats to show whether he belonged. The result was a .167 average, far lower than his .318 clip at Triple-A this year.
Kobernus was able to showcase his speed on the basepaths with three stolen bases and eight runs, many of them manufactured in small ball situations. Davey Johnson used Kobernus as a pinch-runner often as the season winded down and the 25-year-old proved quite good at it. He scored runs in four straight games in late September, three of them as a pinch-runner. Kobernus has posted at least 42 stolen bases in three consecutive minor league seasons, so it’s not a fluke. He’s fast and that translated to the Nats in his brief time with them.
2014 outlook: Kobernus certainly made his case to get a more extended look in the big leagues, but more time at Triple-A Syracuse is probably in his future. The problem is simply timing. The Nats’ bench was so bad last year that they’ll likely go dramatically in the other direction, signing veterans to compensate for the lack of experience that plagued them in 2013.
For Kobernus, or any of the Nats’ young position players, that may mean waiting a little longer. And with Steve Lombardozzi in store, the Nats already have their backup middle infielder. Kobernus could probably help the Nationals in a bench role, but a little more seasoning in the minors could also benefit him. Either way, he’ll be right on the cusp and will certainly be seen in Washington at some point in 2014.
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