Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Tom Petty wrote that “the waiting is the hardest part”, but that same lyric could have been penned by any baseball general manager when it comes to the prospects in their system. Undoubtedly, Washington Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo has felt that way since he selected Carter Kieboom with the 28th overall pick in the 2016 amateur draft. Unlike the NFL and NBA, most casual baseball fans will never hear about a top draft pick again unless the player is called up or traded away. The prospects that advance through the minor leagues will stand out against their competition and that is exactly what Kieboom has done since he signed with Washington.
Despite consistently being one of the younger players at each level, the now 23-year-old Kieboom advanced through five minor league levels in just two full seasons and was consistently considered one of the top position prospects in the Nationals’ system.
Playing for the AAA Fresno Grizzlies in 2019, Kieboom produced a slash line of .303/.409/.493 in 109 games. His performance earned him a promotion to Washington that April when Trea Turner was injured. In his MLB debut, Kieboom slugged an eighth-inning game-tying home run, but only managed a .128 batting average over the next 11 games before being demoted. With the departure of third baseman Anthony Rendon via free agency after 2019 and Turner firmly entrenched at shortstop, the Nationals converted Kieboom to third base for the start of the 2020 season, a position he had only played 10 times in 289 minor league games.
Despite his inexperience, Manager Davey Martinez named him the club’s starting 3B before Opening Day and by most advanced metrics, he played solid defense there when given the chance. Unfortunately, Kieboom’s batting did not show the same improvement as his glove and he was demoted to the alternate training site after managing to hit just .200 without an extra-base hit in 50 at-bats. He returned 10 days later, but his season was abruptly ended when he was struck on the left wrist against the Philadelphia Phillies on September 21st.