Player Preview: Wilmer Difo
Little is known about where Wilmer Difo came from, but what is known is he burst on the scene and would not be forgotten. At some point in his career as a minor league player Difo became a prospect. It's hard to pinpoint exactly when this happened but it may have something to do with his .315/.360/.470 batting line at Hagerstown in 2014. Difo continued that hot hitting in 2015 at Potomac and earned a surprise call-up mid-season.
Difo didn't play much in his time in the majors but he did get time sitting on the bench watching the major league game and working with major league hitting coach Rick Schu. That is valuable experience that should help him in 2016. The spot for Difo is hard to find. Trea Turner has already been crowned the Ian Desmond replacement and Danny Espinosa is a wizard with the glove and an excellent utility defender off the bench. Difo could be a factor as next man up. If Turner, Espinosa, or Murphy go down with injury it's doubtful that the Nationals would want Stephen Drew starting much and that's where Difo could get some playing time and if he makes the most of the opportunity he could earn a spot he doesn't have to give back.
Being depth is a tough position to be in. Difo has worked his way onto prospect lists but at 24 years of age he's starting to reach the too old to be a prospect range. If he isn't in the majors full time by 25 then he stands to lose a lot of trade value and with the Nationals having infield depth to spare Difo could be the part that's shipped out at the trade deadline.
Difo's future is as uncertain as anyone's. He wasn't signed to be an impact player. Scouts thought of him as nothing more than organizational talent and then he started to perform in the minors and drew the attention of scouts. Difo could become the Nats starting second baseman by mid-season with Murphy shifting to first base for an injured Ryan Zimmerman, he could be a valuable back-up and bench player like Michael Taylor was in 2015, he could be traded at the deadline to help the Nats fill a need, or he could spend the entire season at AAA. His future is a mystery as is the impact he's going to have on the 2016 Nationals, but Difo has succeeded at every stop he's made in the minors and if given the chance could do the same in the majors.