BEST PLAYER: Low Class A Hagerstown center fielder Victor Robles has looked even better at age 19 than he did when he rocketed up the prospect ranking last season.
“Besides having the talent to impact the game with all five tools, he is a sponge with a tremendous work ethic,” farm director Mark Scialabba said. “He’s very determined the be the best he can be in all phases of the game.”
Robles, who signed out of the Dominican Republic for $225,000 in 2013, hit .309/.410/.452 with 17 extra-base hits, including five home runs, through 60 games. He stole 18 bases in 25 tries with just 34 strikeouts.
“Victor’s approach at the plate continues to evolve,” Scialabba said. “His pitch recognition is improving, and he is making strides on the defensive side of the ball, especially with his arm accuracy and jumps going back on balls.
“He’s always striving to learn and understand situations—for example, when he can be aggressive and take the extra base (or) when he should make throws to certain bags.”
BIGGEST LEAP FORWARD: Drew Ward, a 21-year-old third baseman, has blossomed in his second season at high Class A Potomac. He hit .292/.390/.516 with 11 home runs through 61 games.
Ward had boosted his OPS by more than 200 points compared with 2015, when he hit six homers in 111 games.
“Drew has really matured as much mentally as physically over the past few months,” Scialabba said. “He’s worked extremely hard from last year through the Arizona Fall League.
“The experience helped him grow and understand what he needs to do to take his game to next level.”
Scialabba said Ward, a lefthanded batter, has shown poise at the plate and an improved strike-zone judgment. The 2013 third-round pick from high school in Leedey, Okla., also has been more efficient in the field.
BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT: Switch-hitting shortstop Wilmer Difo, who reached the big leagues for 15 games in 2015, hit just .223/.296/.292 through 67 games at Double-A Harrisburg.
Difo, who spent part of his minor league career as a backup, put himself on the fast track after winning the MVP award of the low Class A South Atlantic League in 2014.
While fellow shortstop Trea Turner had a dominant first half at Triple-A Syracuse, the 24-year-old Difo, who signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2010, had struggled with the Senators.