Washington Nationals' 2012 Minor League Player of the Year Matt Skole had a .305/.419/.525 line, four doubles and three home runs in 17 games and 74 plate appearances last year in the Arizona Fall League. Skole's big year in the Nats' system saw the 22-going-on-23-year-old left-handed hitting, right-handed throwing infielder put up a combined .291/.426/.559 line between Class-A Hagerstown and High-A Potomac with 28 doubles and 27 HRs in 119 games and 524 PAs on the year.
Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo said in an MLB Network Radio interview last winter that Skole, who was drafted as a third baseman, profiled as a "left-handed power bat at first base," giving them depth and options in the organization behind Tyler Moore, who had two straight 31 HR seasons in the minors (2011-12) and a strong season as a backup in the majors on his resume; Michael Morse who had yet to be traded at that point and Adam LaRoche, who had yet to re-sign. Baseball America ranked Skole fourth on their list of the Nationals' Top 10 Prospects, and named him the Best Power Hitter in the system.
Skole's AFL teammate and fellow 2011 Draft Pick Anthony Rendon put up a .338/.436/.494 line, hit 10 doubles and a triple and stole six bases over 22 games and 94 PAs in Arizona after missing most of his first pro season after suffering a partial fracture of his left ankle in just the second game of the year. Rendon returned to the field late in the summer and moved around the Nats' system, posting a combined .233/.363/.489 line with eight doubles, four triples and six home runs over 43 games and 160 PAs, ending the season at Double-A Harrisburg.
With Rendon at third in the Arizona Fall League, Skole shifted over to first and the Nationals planned on doing the same at Double-A in 2013. Two games into the season, however, Skole suffered a torn UCL on a defensive play at first which cost him the rest of the year as he recovered from Tommy John surgery.
The Nats' GM lamented the fact that the infielder was missing a season at an important time in his development. "But 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," Rizzo told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.'s Holden Kushner and Danny Rouhier.
With a 1 for 2, three walk game on Friday night in Arizona, Skole improved to 5 for 16 (.313/.542/.750) with a double and two home runs after five games with the Mesa Solar Sox, who lost for the first time in AFL action. Skole walked and scored on an RBI single by fellow Nats' prospect Adrian Nieto in the second inning. The second time up, the 6'4'' slugger singled in a run and scored on a bases loaded walk. Nieto ended the night 1 for 3 with two walks. In four games, Nieto, 23, is 4 for 13 with a double, four walks and three Ks. The Solar Sox dropped to 7-1 with the 11-9 loss to the Surprise Saguaros in HoHoKam Park.
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