Welcome to “Get To Know a Nat.” At this point of the year, we’ll be going over some players who’ve made it to the big club since the season started. We’ll look at what we thought about those players in Spring Training, what they’ve done since, and what we hope they’ll do now they are in the Bigs!
Name: Jeffrey Gilbert Kobernus
Nickname(s): I don’t know any, but let’s call him Gil maybe?
DOB: June 30, 1988 (Age 24)
From: San Leandro, CA
Position: Bench, Utility Hand: Righty
With the Nats Since: Drafted by Nats in 2009, MLB Debut May 25, 2013
Kobernus wasn’t on the 40 man roster at the start of the year, so I didn’t do a Spring Training post on him. He’s had a weird path to the 25 man roster: He was drafted by the Nationals in 2009, but snatched away by the Boston Red Sox in the Rule 5 draft this year. Boston traded the rights to Kobernus to the Detroit Tigers…who returned him to the Nationals when they realized he wasn’t going to make their 25 man roster. That’s one of the requirements of taking someone Rule 5: You have to put them on the 25 man roster all year. As such, the Nats could send him back to Syracuse without having lost much of anything. (The Nats aren’t bound by why a drafting team in a Rule 5 draft would have to do).
Kobernus has made steady progress since being drafted. Starting in Rookie League in Vermont, he’s progressed a level each year he’s been with the club including starting in Syracuse this year. His time in Detroit may have proved to be helpful for his promotion in May to the big club. The majority of his time is at second base, where he’s a solid fielder-but can also (it seems) play outfield as well. He’s turned himself into a utility man type (a faster Steve Lombardozzi?) that can fill in at a few spots for the Nationals.
Since Being Called Up: Kobernus has seen limited action with the club, and that will probably continue. It may not sound flattering, but he hasn’t embarrassed himself and filled in admirably in the absence of many stars. In 10 Plate appearances he has two hits, 1K and 1 BB. 6 of his outs at least the ball was in play. He’s made no errors either in the field, so that’s nice. Essentially, the Nationals need a competent fielder and player to take roster spots while folks were injured. As people come back, especially Harper, there will be less room for another utility man on the bench. They’ll need impact players-especially if they have any hope of catching the Braves or making a Wild Card bid.
Going Forward: Kobernus is playing to build a resume now, both with the Nationals and other teams. He’ll be sent back down to Spring Training, but with Danny Espinosa and Anthony Rendon likely getting all the time moving forward at second base, and Steve Lombardozzi already being the utility man, it’s hard to see how he fits into the picture long term. He’ll be back in Syracuse and what may end up happening is that another team interested in a utility man, or a young second basemen, may end up trading for him with the Nationals. He might also fill in a roster spot of someone else who gets traded (say Steve Lombardozzi or Danny Espinosa, should that happen this year) but my guess is he’s the low man on the totem pole. Having only just been called up, though, the Nationals don’t have to do anything with him if they don’t want to-he can stay down in Syracuse for a while-certainly the rest of this year-while the Nats get their bearings.
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