With the Washington Nationals riddled with injuries in the first half, Wilmer Difo shuttled back and forth between Double-A Harrisburg and the nation’s capital. Difo, who had not played above Single-A before the start of the year got in eight games with the Nationals as a pinch-hitter. In all, the 23-year-old shortstop picked up eight at-bats and one hit.
Now, with the Double-A season coming to a close, the time may be right for Difo to return to Washington. When Difo was called up the first few times, it was to provide depth as the Nationals dealt with injuries in the middle infield. Injuries are no longer a concern, as the corps of second basemen and shortstops is finally healthy. Difo would not be needed to play the field or pinch-hit this time around, but his speed could be a major asset as the Nationals fight to claw their way back into the postseason.
In 136 games in the minors last year, Difo stole 49 bases and was caught just nine times. This year, in 105 games Difo has swiped 29 bags while being caught just twice. This is the type of speed that could be used to create instant offense. Difo shows good instincts on the bases, as evidenced by his excellent rate of success. The Nationals have already called up Trea Turner, and with Difo added after his season ends, Matt Williams could have two of the best pinch-running options in the league.
Difo is not necessarily ready for The Show on a full-time basis, but he is more than ready for a month of pinch-running duty in a pennant race. The Nationals do have room on their roster to add Difo, and it is a move that should be considered. Calling Difo up now will not hinder his development in any way. Difo is slated to head to the Arizona Fall League in mid-October, but until then, he should find his way into the Washington clubhouse. The Nationals need a spark, and Difo can provide it in a big way.