Washington Nationals’ outfield prospects Victor Robles and Juan Soto landed at Nos. 5 and 56, respectively, on Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospects list for 2018. That’s a jump from No. 8 for Robles from BA’s midseason Top 100 update from last July, where Soto was ranked as the 95th prospect in baseball.
Robles, 20, posted a combined .300/.382/.493 line with 37 doubles, eight triples, 10 home runs, and 27 stolen bases in two stops in Washington’s minor league system in 2017.
Robles got the call to the majors in early September, making his MLB debut, then, after going 6 for 24 with a double and two triples in 13 games, the top prospect in the Nats’ system was added to the postseason roster for the NLDS.
“The truth is that I wasn’t expecting it,” Robles told reporters of the call-up, when he spoke at the Career Development Program earlier this winter.
“I was prepared for that because I was working hard and that is the wish of every ballplayer, to be brought up to the big leagues. Everything I did, I did it like a big leaguer. Because I was prepared for that. But I didn’t expect it.”
Robles said he was hoping for more of the same in 2018.
“My goal for 2018 is to continue to do the same things,” he said. “When something is good, you can’t change it. So keep doing the same things and working hard to show them that I can be a part of the big league team.”
Nats’ GM Mike Rizzo, when he spoke to reporters at WinterFest last month, said that Robles will be playing every day somewhere when the 2018 campaign gets underway, though a crowded outfield in D.C. likely means Robles will start the season at Triple-A.
“The decision we’re going to make there, is it going to be in the big league level or is it going to be in the minor league level,” Rizzo said.
“It’s never a bad idea to get more minor league at bats, that’s never a bad thing, but he forced his way on the playoff roster last year, and we’re going to give him every opportunity to force his way onto the big league roster, but he will play every day somewhere Opening Day. He’s got to get consistent everyday at bats, and he’s going to be a force for us in the very near future.”
“I’d understand that it would be part of my development,” Robles said of potentially starting the year with the Nationals’ top minor league affiliate, “but I’m going to get there ready to show them that I can start out on the big league team.”
Soto, 19, missed significant time with an ankle injury last season, playing a total of 32 games and putting up a .351/.415/.505 line with six doubles, a triple, and three home runs in 123 plate appearances between Low-A Hagerstown and the Gulf Coast League.