The Washington Nationals made news earlier this month when they announced the hiring of young, unproven GM Jimbo. Jimbo denied all immediate media requests claiming, “I’m not the GM of shit until we’ve got a roster.” We won’t be able to hear Jimbo’s goals for the team until the painstakingly long inaugural draft is done. However, with a few rounds in the books, we can start to get an idea of the team that will play in the nation’s capital this year.
With the 21st pick in the first round, the Washington Nationals selected second baseman Jim Kabacinski. Hailing from Fairmont, West Virginia, Kabacinski was one of only two players (along with fellow 2B Justyn Formigo) without prior MLB experience to be selected in the first round. Scouts have described Kabacinski’s game as electric. A quick bat that can drive the ball from pole to pole, Kabacinski has above average power and speed. Selecting someone so young signals that Jimbo believes Kabacinski can hold down the keystone for many years to come.
Off of the diamond, Kabacinski can be described as having a presence wherever he goes. Coaches rave about Jim’s cool, intense demeanor, and tell stories of his training regimen. Fans of his AAA team claimed he seemed like a good guy to get a beer with, and numerous coeds can be heard swooning when he goes to bat, and line up around the bus after games to perhaps catch a wink or a grin. We had an opportunity to meet Jim Kabacinski and ask a few questions:
Congratulations on being drafted in the first round. What does that mean to you to be drafted so high and to be able to play in DC?
JK- Thanks! I really did not expect to get the call so soon. Of course you want to go early, but that really didn’t matter to me. Whether I went 1st or 91st, I am just excited to have an opportunity to play in the Majors. And of course I’m tremendously excited to have a chance to play in DC. They’ve got a great tradition, have amazing fans and hopefully we can compete and bring home a championship. I’d never actually been so I have enjoyed checking out all the sights.
Being the least experienced player drafted in the first round, do you feel any added pressure to prove yourself?
JK- I don’t feel anything other than the pressure I put on myself everyday to be a better person and ball player than I was the day before. I know what I can do on the field, and I’m looking forward to testing myself against the best in the world.
Have you met Jimbo? What are your thoughts? Is it odd that the GM is the same age as you?
JK- I spoke with Mr. Jimbo on the phone when they drafted me. He asked if I was ready to come to DC and I said “Yes sir”! Since then I’ve come to the facility and met with him at length. He’s a really smart and passionate guy. He laid out some of the plan with me; talking about the style he wants to play, the culture in the organization. He told me even though I am a rookie, he is looking for me to set the tone in the clubhouse in the same way he is setting it in the front office. It’s not lost on me that this is his first big call up to the bigs as well and he is putting a lot of faith in me. At the end of the day, we’re a couple young guns named Jim doing what we do best to win a ring for DC.
Now that you’re getting paid Major League money, what’s going to be your first purchase?
JK- Number one I am buying my folks a new house. All the support they’ve given me, all the travelling, the number of grounders my old man hit, they deserve it. Other than that, life will pretty much stay the same. I’ll be ballpark so much, there won’t be much time for fancy toys. I have been impressed with all the activism here in DC. I may lend support or start my own foundation. And of course, a big party with my hometown friends before the season starts!
Jim Kabacinski carries the baseball hopes of Washington DC on his shoulders quite freely. His relish for the game and the flair with which he plays it are sure to delight fans. But can the youngster lead the Nats to the promised land? Only time will tell.