Confidence Is Key For Ian Desmond

"I am very proud to be a National."

If you looked up and down the Nationals' minor league system, you may not find a more exciting and talented player than Ian Desmond. A toolsy shortstop with "star" written all over him, Ian could be on the fast track. All the tools are in place and he has the organization behind him, but the key is confidence for Ian Desmond. (Free Preview!)

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There's no one who has seen Ian Desmond play the game that comes away unimpressed by the toolsy young shortstop. Not only do they come away impressed with his athleticism and raw skills, but also by his poise, intelligence and advanced feel for the game. The only thing left for a player of Ian's caliber to do is continue to refine his game. In fact, with a shortstop on thin ice at the big league level in Cristian Guzman, it would not come as a surprise if the Nationals simply kept the position warm while Desmond continues to develop his already fabulous talent.

After struggling in his first professional season in 2004, Desmond opened more than a few sets of eyes when he dazzled team officials and coaches in his stint with the big league club in spring training of 2005. And, to everyone's delight, that performance carried over nicely into the regular season. Although his performance may not be staggering, the 20 year old more than held his own offensively with Savannah and eventually Potomac after his promotion in June.

"For the most part, I'm happy with how I did in 2005," Desmond told CapitolDugout.com. "I mean, I'm still only 20 years old and I seem to be moving through the organization rather fast. And, as far as my play goes, I think there are things I can do differently next year."

As we've already touched on, the numbers don't jump off Ian Desmond's stat page, but what's more important is what he shows in terms of tools and what he could project to be in the future. Not to mention, he's also proved to be a highly intelligent and mature player despite his age. When you put those two characteristics together, the result is a player with the ability to make adjustments efficiently.

"Toward the end of the season in Potomac, I really started to be more selective at the plate and I was able to raise my batting average," the former 3rd round pick explained. "Defensively, I just needed to relax and have fun out there. Earlier, I was so up tight. I was trying to do everything perfect and that's just not the way I play. I play so much better when I just use my instincts."

When people speak of Ian Desmond, the words you often hear are 'athletic', 'toolsy', along with various other descriptions that rave about the Sarasota native's physical tools. But, what is too frequently and erroneously overlooked is Ian's intangibles and mental feel for the game. We all know of his physical tools, but what makes him such a talent is what he has upstairs.

"I think my in-game mentality and my work ethic are my best tools as a player," Desmond revealed. "Those aren't really specified tools, but I think that those are my two best qualities as a baseball player."

At only 20 years of age and heading into only his second year of full season professional baseball, Ian Desmond obviously has a lot of work to do and a myriad of adjustments to make. There's also no doubt that the big club be keeping a close eye on him, with hopes that they may be following their future star shortstop. Do the Nationals have confidence in him? Absolutely. With that in mind, Ian knows exactly what he needs to do.

"It's awesome to know that they have confidence in me," the shortstop proclaimed. "But, I need to be confident in my own ability and I think that is when things will start coming to the surface. I need to be more confident in myself is what I am saying. At times, I don't feel like I play with the confidence that I need to. I am a very competitive person, but at times I get timid."

A player of Desmond's mental capacity obviously sets high standards for himself and is constantly trying to better his game. That is precisely the reason he has reached the point in his career he is at today. From taking extra batting practice back in high school to setting higher standards for his next season in professional baseball, Ian Desmond will always be improving.

"As far as my goals, I just want to cut down on errors to around 15 or 20," Desmond told CapitolDugout.com. "Defense is my main priority. I think that as I mature, my offense will prevail though. I think I am doing good things at the plate, but I would like to concentrate on moving runners over and bunting in key points of the game. I'd also like to raise my walk and stolen base totals."

If there is an heir apparent to the shortstop position for the Washington Nationals, it would appear that Ian Desmond is the organization's number one choice. With his poise and intangibles that have been likened to Derek Jeter by Nationals' GM, Jim Bowden, he may be someone that Washington fans may want to become familiar with.

"Well, I think [the fans] should know that I am very proud to be a National and I wouldn't ever want to be any where else," a proud Ian Desmond announced. "I am going to do everything in my power to be a key player for their team. I am also a team player and I always put my team first before myself. I don't think that any player is bigger than the team. I will always work hard for them and they can be sure that I am always giving 110% on and off the field."

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