Difo coming out of spring gates swinging

Difo coming out of spring gates swinging

VIERA, Fla. -- Wilmer Difo was a catalyst in the Nationals' 9-2 victory over the Tigers on Wednesday afternoon. The second baseman went 2-for-3 with two runs scored and is now 6-for-12 this spring.

Washington scored its first four runs in the first two innings off Tigers left-hander David Price. Difo led off the first with a double and then scored on a double by Zimmerman. Bryce Harper scored the Nats' second run on a groundout by Wilson Ramos. An inning later, Derrick Robinson scored on a triple by Difo, who was then plated on a double by Ian Desmond.

"I feel good, I feel ready," Difo said. "Thanks to the team for [giving me] the chance and having the confidence in me. So I'm ready and comfortable."

Manager Matt Williams has put Difo in the lineup as a second baseman and a shortstop. Asked what position he prefers, Difo said, "I'm more like a shortstop, but I can play [both]."

Difo could be in the Nationals' infield by 2016, especially if Desmond departs. Last year, the Nationals' No. 8 prospect according to MLB.com set career marks in nearly every offensive category, hitting .315 with 14 home runs, 90 RBIs, 37 walks and 91 runs scored in 136 games for Class A Hagerstown. He was named the South Atlantic League's Most Valuable Player after leading the league with 176 hits while ranking second in total bases (263), second in stolen bases (49), fourth in RBIs and fourth in runs scored.

Williams is impressed by what he has seen from the 22-year-old. It's not known where Difo will start the season, but it would not come as a surprise if he started with Double-A Harrisburg.

Williams took notice that Difo is adapting well to being around big league players.

"I think he is well on his way to being a big leaguer," Williams said. "It's early yet. He hasn't even reached Double-A yet. But he can certainly hit a fastball, which is great. We've seen him swing at some bad breaking balls, too. That's just being young.

"He plays both middle-infield positions. He has good action in the infield. He has speed and runs the bases well. He is a pretty good package. He can do a lot of things on the baseball field which could help you win. It's just a matter of him getting at-bats."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.