Every Spring Training box score comes with the usual grain of salt, but Nationals shortstop Carter Kieboom added a significant feather to his cap all the same Tuesday night.
Kieboom, Washington’s No. 2 prospect and MLB Pipeline’s No. 25 overall, homered in each of his first two at-bats against reigning American League Cy Young Award runner-up Justin Verlander during the Nationals’ 5-3 win over the Astros in Grapefruit League Action at FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. The 21-year-old blasted a two-run dinger to left-center in the second and then attacked a first-pitch fastball and sent it to the left-center seats again in the fourth.
“I think I’d be lying if I said I didn’t know who was on the mound.” Kieboom told MLB.com. “Yeah, I know exactly who he is. I have never faced him before. I’d seen him on TV, that’s about it. But when I get in the batter’s box, yeah, he’s a pitcher. I look at what he throws and what his tendencies are and what pitches are working for him that night, like I would any other pitcher.”
Homering once off Verlander is no easy task for a young hitter, let alone twice in one contest. The only players to go deep twice off Verlander in one game over the last five seasons are Curtis Granderson and Khris Davis, with each of them doing so last year.
Kieboom began 2018 with Class A Advanced Potomac and worked his way up to Double-A Harrisburg by season’s end. He hit .262 with five home runs across 273 plate appearances with the Senators.