Can Nationals' 1B Prospect Matt Skole Bounce Back From Lost Season?

Chris Trotman

No Washington Nationals' prospects have made MLBPipeline.com's lists of the Top 10 RHPs, LHPs, shortstops, catchers or first basemen, but 2011 5th Round pick Matt Skole got a mention at the end of the list of the game's top first base prospects...

The Washington Nationals didn't manage to land any prospects on MLBPipeline.com's lists of the Top 10 right or left-handed pitching prospects (though former Nats' prospect Robbie Ray, now with the Detroit Tigers after the Doug Fister trade, did land at no.10 on the list of lefties).

"Our rehab guys and our medical staff will do a great job with him and we're looking for big things for him next season..." - Mike Rizzo on Matt Skole's injury on 106.7 the FAN in D.C.

There were no Nationals' prospects on their list of the Top 10 catching prospects or Top 10 shortstops either, when those lists were released recently.

When the scouts and writers at MLBPipeline.com released their rankings of the Top 10 first base prospects today, no Nationals' prospects made the list, but one got an honorable mention from MLB.com's Jim Callis in his write-up. Matt Skole, 24, may have missed most of the 2013 campaign after breaking his wrist and tearing the ulnar collateral ligament in his left arm, but he remains a top prospect according to Mr. Callis:

"Matt Skole (Nationals) got off to a terrific start as a pro, leading the short-season New York-Penn League in RBIs in 2011 and winning low Class A South Atlantic League MVP honors in 2012. Then, on the same play, a collision at first base, he sustained a broken left wrist and torn left (non-throwing) elbow, ending his season after two games and requiring Tommy John surgery. When healthy, Skole has displayed power to all fields and good patience."

In addition to earning "South Atlantic League MVP honors in 2012," Skole was named the Nationals' Minor League Player of the Year that season, after the 2011 5th Round pick out of Georgia Tech put up a combined .291/.426/.559 line with 28 doubles and 27 HRs in 119 games and 524 plate appearances between Low-A Hagerstown and High-A Potomac.

As Mr. Callis notes, Skole suffered his season-ending injury just two games in at Double-A Harrisburg last summer, though he did return to the field in the Arizona Fall League, where he put up a .184/.375/.429 line with a double, triple and three home runs in 15 games and 64 PAs in his second stint in the so-called "finishing school" for the game's top prospects.

In spite of the injury, Skole was ranked 4th on Baseball America's list of the Nationals' Top 10 Prospects for 2014 when it was released earlier this winter. Skole lost out on a year's worth of plate appearances at an important time in his development. How will he bounce back this season, in his fourth campaign in the Nats' system?

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