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Nats' Carter Kieboom shines in Futures Game

Washington's No. 1 prospect notches hit, makes dazzling play at short
@adamdberry
July 7, 2019

CLEVELAND -- Carter Kieboom has already made it to the Majors, having played in 11 games for the Nationals earlier this season, so perhaps he was better prepared for the spotlight of the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game on Sunday night. He certainly looked comfortable.

CLEVELAND -- Carter Kieboom has already made it to the Majors, having played in 11 games for the Nationals earlier this season, so perhaps he was better prepared for the spotlight of the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game on Sunday night. He certainly looked comfortable.

Kieboom made an outstanding play for the final out of the third inning, hustling from his spot at shortstop to snag Jake Rogers’ grounder before firing a low throw to first baseman Will Craig. The ball bounced off the mound, between Dodgers prospect Dustin May’s legs. Kieboom and second baseman Isan Diaz both charged the ball, but Kieboom got there first and made a firm, off-balance throw to end the inning.

“It was fun. I was glad I got to make a couple plays out there,” said Kieboom, who went 0-for-2 in last year’s Futures Game at Nationals Park. “Last year, I don’t think I had really any plays. I got to make some plays out there on defense and swing the bat this year.

“All around, it was a great day. We did a lot of stuff today, and it was pretty rewarding to have the big crowd like that and play in front of all those fans.”

Box score

The 21-year-old infielder, starting at shortstop for the National League, led off the fourth inning with a line-drive single to left field -- the first hit of the game -- off Tigers prospect Matt Manning. Kieboom, MLB Pipeline’s No. 21 overall prospect, came around to score the first run of the game on a single by Reds prospect Taylor Trammell, a fellow Georgia native who was the MVP of last year’s Futures Game at Nationals Park.

“It’s always fun to play in front of a good crowd, play alongside some of the best and play against some of the best as well,” Kieboom said. “It’s always a fun time when you get to do this. Family gets to come out, you get a little break, and it’s supposed to be fun. That’s exactly what it was tonight.”

And it was a little different the second time around, Kieboom admitted, especially after his brief stint in the Majors.

His introduction to the next level was not all that smooth, as he hit just .128 with a .491 OPS and 16 strikeouts in 43 plate appearances. He also committed four errors in 10 games at shortstop. But he is the Nationals' No. 1 prospect according to MLB Pipeline for a reason.

Kieboom has hit .297/.406/.560 with 10 homers in 48 games since rejoining Triple-A Fresno, and as he showed Sunday night, he’s better defensively than he showed in his debut with Washington.

“Definitely it’s beneficial to be exposed to the big leagues. I learned so much up there. It matured me as a player in a lot of aspects,” Kieboom said. “It definitely felt different this year compared to last year. But it was fun.

“I came here to have fun and try to enjoy the moment. I got to see a lot of guys I played with growing up play again for the first time in a long time. It was just cool to play against one another and have a good time with each other up here.”

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.