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Skole impresses early in first big league camp

VIERA, Fla. -- Third baseman Matt Skole was named the Nationals' Minor League Player of the Year last season for hitting a combined .291 with 27 home runs, 104 RBIs and a 438 on-base percentage for Class A affiliates Hagerstown and Potomac. He also impressed the front office by improving his footwork at third base. It helped that he was in great shape, and he arrived at Spring Training this year to make an impressive start.

"He has a great eye. He really knows where the ball is," said assistant general manager Bob Boone . "His improvement from the year before to last year, defensively, he really improved at third base. In the Arizona Fall League, he played first base and he likes it. He is going to be a decent defender. I think he is really going to hit. He is a hitter first and the power comes second."

Skole is often seen hitting monster shots during batting practice.

"He is a big, strong left-handed bat. We know what he could do as far as BP goes," said general manager Mike Rizzo. "He can hit them as far as anybody. He has produced on the field for us at each level. We are excited to see his progression and see him get better each and every time we lay eyes on him."

Skole will likely be teammates this year with outfielder Brian Goodwin and third baseman Anthony Rendon at Double-A Harrisburg. What position would Skole like to play -- third base or first? To him, it doesn't matter.

"We have great corner guys in the big league level with Adam LaRoche and Ryan Zimmerman. I'm just happy to be here," Skole said. "I'm learning from those guys. I see how they go about their business. I'm just trying to learn something new every day."

While he is in Major League camp, Skole wants to show manager Davey Johnson that he is all business on the field.

"Obviously, I want to show them I'm here for the team," Skole said. "I want to work hard. I want to go out there every day and bust my butt. I want to show them that I'm honored to have the privilege to be in big league Spring Training, and we'll go from there."