"I watched 'Lombo' in Spring Training and you see how hard he works," said Kobernus, a second-round pick by Washington in 2009 out of the University of California.
Lombardozzi spent the first half of 2011 as the primary second baseman at Harrisburg before he was promoted to Syracuse. He is a key utility player for Washington and has seen time at second, third and in left field.
This year Kobernus, who turned 24 on Saturday and was named to the Eastern League All-Star Game last week, is the everyday second baseman at Harrisburg, and he does have a few things in common with Lombo.
Both had fathers who played pro baseball: the elder Steve Lombardozzi was the second baseman for the world champion Twins in 1987, while Kobernus' father, also named Jeff, played in the Minors in the early 1980s with Oakland. Both of their fathers coached their sons at the youth level.
"It was pretty typical. He was always pushing me and stuff. He had a grasp of what it takes," said the 6-foot-2, 210-pound Kobernus, who added that his father sought out the best instructors for him.
The Harrisburg infielder from the Bay Area grew up going to Oakland A's games, then played in college with the Bears. He worked his way up last season to Class A Advanced Potomac, where he hit .282 in 489 at-bats with seven homers, 52 RBIs, 22 doubles and 53 steals in 61 tries. He's on pace for similar numbers this year after starting the year strong.
"He got out of the gate real well," said Doug Harris, director of player development for the Nationals. "He was on fire."
Those are similar numbers to what Lombardozzi posted last year with the Senators in 69 games before he was promoted to Syracuse.
Harrisburg hitting coach Eric Fox said Kobernus may have been headed for 60 to 80 steals if he had not missed about three weeks with a thumb injury, which he suffered May 23 at Altoona.
"Bottom line, I think he can play in the big leagues," Fox said. "He's a hard worker. Not too many young players have an approach and stick with it [at the plate]. He accepts criticism in a good way. He is a good No. 2 hitter, and he can put the ball on the ground."
What does Kobernus think of his season to date?
"It's been OK. I want to be more consistent. You try to be as consistent as you can be," Kobernus said.
Merely very good: It was Super Hero Day for the youth in attendance Wednesday afternoon in Harrisburg, but Senators starter Paul Demny settled for being very good as he fanned a season-high nine batters in a win over Altoona. He allowed one run in seven innings and hit 95 mph with his 100th pitch before giving way to Henry Rodriguez, who began his rehab with two strikeouts in a scoreless inning. Demny, a sixth-round pick in 2008, had allowed one run in seven innings in a win June 22 at New Hampshire after he had given up 11 earned runs and 10 hits in a loss at home to Trenton on June 16.
Back in the Eastern League: Organizational depth at starting pitcher, according to Orioles farm director John Stockstill, was one of the reasons lefty Richard Zagone began this year at Class A Advanced Frederick. But the University of Missouri product, who won an emergency start in May with Triple-A Norfolk, was called up to Bowie and got the win June 26 at Binghamton. "I really depended on my fastball and I relied on my defense," Zagone said. He was saddled with the loss Sunday in a 6-2 setback at New Britain after allowing six earned runs in six innings. Zagone saw time with Bowie in 2010 and 2011.
Dodging the rain: Trenton scored three runs in the top of the 11th to beat host Portland, 6-3, in a game interrupted Sunday by rain. "Our offense was limited, but we scratched and clawed our way back," Portland manager Kevin Boles told The Portland Press-Herald. "I'm very proud of how they fought back." The Sea Dogs scored in the sixth and seventh to force extra innings after trailing, 3-1.