At the time he was called up to the majors, after Wilson Ramos was injured in late September, Spencer Kieboom had been out of action for around three weeks.
He played his last game for the Double-A Harrisburg Senators in Washington’s system on September 5th, then got the call to the majors on September 27th.
Kieboom, who was added to the 40-man roster in late 2015, got one plate appearance in the final regular season game, walking and scoring a run in a win over Miami.
So what did the 2012 Nationals’ 5th Round pick learn from his brief stint in the majors and does he think it will help him in the future?
“I don’t know the answer to that, but I do know it can’t hurt,” Kieboom told reporters this winter.
“I mean, it takes time to do whatever it is. I’m personally preparing the best that I can and after seeing what I saw, I know I need to make some adjustments, small adjustments, to be the best player that I can be, and I think that what I’ve been working on now is going to translate over into the Spring and into the season.”
Kieboom’s takeaway from the 2016 campaign, his fifth in the minors, which saw him put up a .230/.324/.314 line with 11 doubles, five home runs, 43 walks and 61 Ks in 94 games and 359 plate appearances at Double-A?
“Honestly, to keep working,” he said, “because you never know what’s going to happen or when it’s going to happen. It’s wild. I don’t think anybody ever really knows how it’s going to happen and [my season] was pretty interesting to say the least.
“I’m really focusing, right now, this offseason, the last couple months I’ve been really focusing on my weaknesses and getting more consistent with things I need more consistency with.”
What has he identified as his weaknesses?
“I think one of my strengths is the fact that I can adjust, but it’s also a weakness at the same time, because sometimes I think I’ll adjust too quick instead of letting it ride out.
“Right now, I’m really focusing on a swing that I feel like it’s going to be something I use the entire season, and it’s quiet and it’s fundamentally sound, it doesn’t just feel good for a little bit it’s going to feel good the whole time.”
Over his five seasons in the Nationals’ system after he was drafted out of Clemson, Kieboom has put up a .264/.344/.381 line.
Personally, there were ups and downs for the backstop in 2016. His friend and minor league battery mate, Lucas Giolito, was dealt to the Chicago White Sox this winter, however, his brother, Carter, was drafted by the Nationals in the first round of the draft this past June.
Kieboom said he learned that Giolito was traded via Twitter. His reaction when he heard about the trade?
“I’m like, ‘Dang.’” So I texted Lucas real quick and he was like, ‘Dang.’”
He did, however, say he thought things would work out well for the right-hander.
“It’s bittersweet for him as well,” Kieboom said. “That’s one of my best friends, truly. We’re really close. Same thing kind of happened with Tony Renda when he left. We were really close as well. Lucas is going to have a good opportunity in front of him, I feel like, at least from what I looked at. Him and Reynaldo [Lopez] are going to have a really good chance to probably break with the team and if not they’ll be up there a lot.
“It’s bittersweet on a personal end, and me being his friend, I feel like he’s going to have a really good career no matter what.”
As for his brother joining him in the organization? The elder Kieboom said he didn’t get much of a chance to talk to his younger brother during the season.
“We didn’t talk at all, because we were basically on separate schedules. Right now though it’s really awesome, because I get to wake up and we’re both downstairs and we’re both making breakfast and we have workouts at the same time and after that we head back and we’ll hit and we’ll do different things, start throwing soon.
“It’s been awesome. For me, it’s good, because he knows me so well and he can see different things that I’m doing and vice versa. And we really feed off one another. Of course there are some arguments here and there, we’re brothers, but it’s been really good. It’s pretty awesome. There’s nothing better, I don’t think there’s anything better.”
Though he’s probably fourth on the depth chart among the five catchers on the Nats’ 40-Man roster, as he and the Nationals learned late last season, you never know...