WASHINGTON—Not much has come easy for first baseman/left fielder Matt Page in his baseball career, yet he’s enjoying a breakout season in part because he has taken a more moderate approach to his game.
“Last year, I wanted to make a full-season club and was trying to do a little too much in spring training,” said Page, 24, whom the Nationals promoted from low Class A Hagerstown to high Class A Potomac in August. “Coming up (to Hagerstown) toward the end of last year gave me a good experience of what to expect.”
A 10th-round pick in 2014 out of Oklahoma Baptist, Page hit just three home runs in 380 at-bats entering 2016. Then the lefthanded batter put up .280/.366/.463 numbers with a team-high 10 homers in 311 at-bats in the South Atlantic League. He also led Suns batters with 23 doubles, 62 RBIs and 45 walks.
“He’s getting good pitches, and he’s done a really good job with our hitting coach Amaury Garcia,” Hagerstown manager Patrick Anderson said.
After Page played two seasons at Skyline (Calif.) JC, his only offer to a four-year school came from Oklahoma Baptist, where he was a two-time NAIA all-American. Page said a key time in his development also came in the summer after his junior year when he played in the West Coast League.
“I struggled then, too,” Page said. “So it gave me a good idea of what to work on my senior year, and then pro ball.”
On one night this summer, Page reached base all five times with two walks and three singles, including a hit to the opposite field against Rockies lefthander Ben Bowden, a second-round pick this year.
“When he’s able to stay in the zone,” Anderson said, “he covers the plate really well. He’s working his tail off and is dedicated to not only being a good hitter, but really working to increase his opportunities.”
• The only prospect the National League East leaders surrendered at the trade deadline was Hagerstown lefthander Taylor Hearn, whom they dealt with lefty Felipe Rivero to the Pirates for closer Mark Melancon.
• When Page joined Potomac, fellow first baseman Jose Marmolejos moved up to Double-A Harrisburg. The organization’s minor league player of the year in 2015, Marmolejos hit .286/.381/.495 with 11 homers in the Carolina League.