Developing under the radar benefited Zimmerman

Nationals third baseman's maturity at young age complemented talent

Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, Nationals
Hometown: Washington, N.C. 

Major League scouts didn't pay much attention to high school shortstop Zimmerman. Neither did many Division I coaches.

But as those decision-makers focused on others from the all-of-a-sudden baseball hotbed that was this southeast corner of Virginia -- including Zimmerman's showcase teammates David Wright and B.J. Upton -- Zimmerman was happy to take a late offer from the University of Virginia.

"It was good for him to be under the radar," Kellam High (Virginia Beach, Va.) coach St. Clair Jones said.

Zimmerman emerged as the fourth overall pick, selected by Washington in the 2005 Draft, fulfilling the role he was groomed for from age 9 by AAU coach Matt Sinnen, a former Minor Leaguer.

Zimmerman was a good-but-not-exceptional player at Kellam -- not all that fast, not all that powerful -- but was more mature than most. Jones said that was due in part to Zimmerman carrying extra responsibilities at home when his mother, Cheryl, started using a wheelchair due to her MS when he was young.

Tim Healey is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.