PHOENIX — As of late Saturday evening, the Washington Nationals had two healthy outfielders on their major league roster. As of game time Sunday, they hope to have a third. The Nationals will call up Andrew Stevenson from Class AAA Syracuse, according to a person familiar with the situation. He will likely take Chris Heisey’s spot on the active roster, as Heisey suffered a groin injury in the Nationals’ 4-3 win over the Diamondbacks on Saturday, and Dusty Baker indicated the Nationals would probably have to make a roster move as a result.
Stevenson was the Nationals’ first pick in the 2015 draft — a second-rounder, the 58th overall pick. He impressed internally with an outstanding fall league season in 2016, one in which he led the league in hits and finished second in batting average to Yankees super-prospect Gleyber Torres. Stevenson, 23, is a speedy, left-handed-hitting outfielder who played his college ball at Louisiana State, one Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo once described as the type who “plays 100 miles per hour with his hair on fire.” Stevenson, who began the year at Class AA Harrisburg, is hitting .246 in 73 games for Class AAA Syracuse. He is a .280 career hitter in the minor leagues.
The Nationals need Stevenson because of an improbable confluence of outfield injuries, one that left them with two available outfielders of the eight on their 40-man roster after Heisey’s injury. Ryan Raburn is leaving the team Sunday because of the death of his grandfather. Jayson Werth, Adam Eaton, Michael A. Taylor, and Rafael Bautista are all injured. Bryce Harper and Brian Goodwin are the only healthy outfielders on that 40-man roster. The Nationals will have to make a move to create space on the 40-man for Stevenson.
Though more-experienced options like Brandon Snyder and Alejandro De Aza linger in Class AAA, they do not have options. Stevenson does, and can play all three outfield positions, which neither of the others can do. Stevenson will join Adam Lind and Wilmer Difo as left field options for Baker on Sunday, assuming he gets to Phoenix in time, which he probably will — though it will be quite a hurry.