How closely can Carter Kieboom fill the Rendon-sized hole in Nats lineup?

Carter Kieboom, Washington Nationals. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Carter Kieboom, Washington Nationals. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /

With Anthony Rendon departing for the Los Angeles Angels, is Carter Kieboom ready to replace him in the middle of the Washington Nationals’ lineup?

Everybody wants a piece of a champion.

With the Washington Nationals winning their first World Series in franchise history, it was only natural key pieces from the 2019 club would be finding new homes. No player’s departure from the Nationals organization this offseason was more profound than Anthony Rendon signing a seven-year, $245 million contract to play for the Los Angeles Angels.

Rendon may have only made it to one All-Star Game in Nationals uniform, but he finished in the top-10 in the NL MVP race three times in his seven seasons in the nation’s capital. While he joins what looks to be a pretty good situation in Los Angeles with Mike Trout already there and former Chicago Cubs skipper Joe Maddon now in charge, where does Washington go from here?

Fortunately for Nationals fans, they have just the prospect ready to make a big splash in 2020. As with Rendon, Carter Kieboom was a former first-round pick by the Nationals. Instead of going the college route like Rendon did at Rice and Kieboom’s older brother Spencer Kieboom did at Clemson, Carter Kieboom signed with Washington right out of high school in 2016.

The Marietta, Georgia native could become the best MLB player to ever play at suburban Atlanta powerhouse Walton High School. Kieboom is the top prospect in the Nationals organization and has been a highly regarded asset for them since being drafted in 2016. At 22-years-old, the shortstop will have his opportunity to help fill the void of Rendon’s inevitable departure.

Kieboom made his big league debut back in April 2019, as he filled in for an injured Trea Turner out of camp. He slashed .128/.209/.282 in 39 at-bats, hitting two home runs and scoring four runs for the Nationals before being sent back down. Obviously, Kieboom was not part of the September call-ups, nor did he take part in the Nationals’ World Series run last year. But is he ready now?

While Kieboom didn’t tear it up during his big-league cup of coffee, he dominated AAA, in his first year playing at the level. Kieboom slashed .303/.409/.493 with 16 home runs, 79 runs and 79 RBI in 109 minor-league games last year.

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Ultimately, Rendon will never be as appreciated as Bryce Harper was for years in the middle of the Nationals’ lineup. But those who followed the Nats closely knew how important Rendon was to them winning ball game after ball game. Kieboom was drafted to be a huge impact player for Washington at the big-league level. It’s a lot of pressure, but he’s prepared his whole life for this.