The Nationals have dealt with injuries to their outfield all season. Whether it was losing Adam Eaton early, or Jayson Werth or Michael A. Taylor in the middle or Bryce Harper most recently, the outfield at Nationals Park has been a revolving door. The Nats added Howie Kendrick from the Phillies at the non-waiver trading deadline, and have also given Adam Lind time as well. Now, according to Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan, the team is digging into its future for help now.
Passan reports that Washington is summoning 20-year-old Victor Robles, the Nationals’ top prospect and No. 8 in the game, to the big leagues. Robles just finished his second full season as a professional, which he split between high Class A Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg. Between the levels, Robles hit .300/.382/.493 with eight triples, 10 home runs, 47 RBIs and 27 stolen bases in 37 chances. The Nationals sit atop the NL East by 18 games, which means they can afford to use the remaining weeks of the season to help Robles get his feet wet in the big leagues.
His plus-plus speed also makes him an intriguing candidate for Washington’s designated burner in October. In other words, he could be the guy Dusty Baker calls on when he needs to create a run in later innings. He wouldn’t be bad as a defensive replacement, either. It’s also worth noting that the Nationals have assigned him to the Arizona Fall League as well.
Robles is a true five-tool player. He’s got slam-dunk tools in center field, including well above-average speed and range to all four quadrants. That said, his arm could lead the Nationals to play Robles in right field in the major leagues. As one evaluator put it, he’s got a right field arm with center field range. His speed and high contact rate—he struck out just 84 times this season—could lead Robles to a high average when he gets regular playing time in the big leagues. He’s not a big-time power threat right now, but that should come as he grows older and matures more physically. There are people in the game who believe that adding physical strength to his already gifted hands and wrists could lead him to 15 to 20 homers annually in the big leagues.
Presently, Robles’ tool set is perfect for a spot at or near the top of the order, where he can pester opposing defenses with bunts and line drives to the gaps while playing plus-plus defense. In the future, as his power develops, he could move to the middle of the order. In either case, he has a chance to be a multifaceted talent who entrenches himself in the nation’s capital for the next decade or so.
WHAT TO EXPECT
From a fantasy standpoint, Robles probably won’t get much playing time at first. He’ll probably get a start here or there or see time in the outfield in later innings, but when he does play he’ll probably give potential owners enough of a glimpse of his talent to pick him up in keeper formats if he’s not already owned.