Nationals Catcher Kieboom Commits To His Craft





WASHINGTON—With catching in his bloodline, Spencer Kieboom had nothing but good things to say about his first stint as a professional backstop with short-season Auburn.

"I went into it with an open mind," said Kieboom, a fifth-round pick from Clemson. "I had a blast (and) loved every minute of it. I really got into a routine and kind of figured out what works for me, how to get prepared every single day."

After all, the Kiebooms have no problems going to great lengths to play catcher. Spencer's father Alswinn left the Netherlands as a teenager to live with a host family before catching at Eastern Illinois. That's where Alswinn met Spencer's mother, and a generation later there's a catching Kieboom in the minor leagues.

The 21-year-old Kieboom threw out 12 of 28 basestealers (43 percent) and hit .258/.362/.305 with six doubles in 128 at-bats in the New York-Penn League.

Kieboom worked with Auburn hitting coach Luis Ordaz and minor league hitting coordinator Rick Schu on his swing.

"When you get there, they don't really mess with you, but they let you come to them," said Kieboom, a righthanded batter. "One thing I'm still learning is trying to use more smaller muscles. So much is in the hands and incorporating your legs."

Auburn clinched the division title on the next-to-last day of the season with a 9-7 win at Williamsport. Kieboom tied the score with a two-run single on a line drive to center field with two outs in the eighth inning—though the Doubledays fell in their first-round series against Tri-City.

Defensively, Kieboom said the biggest lesson from the season is to trust himself, a message drilled in him by organization officials Bob Boone, Bobby Henley and Pat Corrales, all former catchers.

Kieboom has dual citizenship and played for a Dutch team in a youth tournament in Spain when he was 15. He considered playing for the Netherlands again as the nation hosted the European championships in September, but he instead decided to focus on instructional league.

CAPITAL GAINS

• Low Class A Hagerstown (82-55) made the South Atlantic League playoffs by virtue of finishing first in the Northern Division during the second half. The Suns lost both their playoff games to Greensboro.

Zach Duke, a 29-year-old lefthander who has pitched in the majors each season since 2005, received a September callup after leading the Triple-A International League with 15 wins.