With all the time he missed while rehabbing from an early season injury, the Washington Nationals kept top prospect Victor Robles at Triple-A as long as possible so that he’d get regular at bats before bringing him up once the minor league season came to an end.
“We just want him to catch up and get as many everyday at bats as he can while he is in Triple-A and when we bring him up we’d certainly like to see him play in the big leagues,” GM Mike Rizzo told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies last week.
Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez reiterated on Monday that he wants to get a good look at Robles now that he’s up, so the 21-year-old outfielder is going to play down the stretch this September.
“I truly believe that he can help us win games. I do,” Martinez said.
“So we have to get him out to see if he can do that. And like I said, I want to watch him play, but then again we have other guys too that still need to play and deserve to play, so we’re going to have to kind of figure things out, whether it’s a left/right thing or just giving guys a day off, we’ll do it that way.”
Getting a glimpse of Robles and Juan Soto in the same outfield at some point should be one good reason to keep an eye on the Nationals over the last few weeks of the regular season if you’ve given up hope of some sort of miraculous finish. Watching Soto was probably reason enough to keep watching though, honestly.
“Everybody fell in love with Soto, because he’s done so well,” Martinez told reporters after Robles came up, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman. “He’s been incredible.”
“You know, Victor Robles is an unbelievable athlete, and I think he’s going to do just as good. I’m looking forward to getting him out there and getting him some playing time.”
Rizzo added this morning, in his latest visit with the Sports Junkies, that we’ve only seen a little bit of what Robles has to offer, and now that he’s healthy, and has played for a while in the minors following the injury to his left elbow, which he suffered on a diving play in the outfield in April, he’s starting to remind folks what all the hype was about over the last few years.
“We all saw a little snapshot of what [Robles] can bring to the table,” Rizzo explained.
“He’s an outstanding presence in the lineup. He’s an extreme athlete. Blinding speed, great defense, he really can throw, he’s got power, he’s an exciting baserunner, so he plays at 100 mph with his hair on fire and he’s one of the young, athletic, fast-moving players that we keep trying to churn into the lineup each and every year. He’s going to be exciting.”
If not for the injury Robles suffered, we might not have seen Soto called up when he was, since he was behind Robles on the depth chart by most estimations going into 2018, but he’s taken advantage of the opportunity.
Now it’s time to see what they can do together as two-thirds of the outfield of the future in the nation’s capital.
“[Robles is] a guy that plays really, really fast, and has speed to burn and has learned to hit as his minor league career has progressed,” Rizzo continued.
“We think that he was ready to make that leap this year, but he hyperextended his left elbow early on, like I think Game 4 of the minor league season which really sidetracked him a little bit in his progression this year, but came back after a four-month rehab and played about 57 games or so in Triple-A and he’s just starting now to get his sea legs and his timing and that type of thing and we’re looking for big things from him and he’s obviously a big part of our future.
“He’s one of the top prospects in baseball in all of baseball if not the top prospect, and you put him side by side with Soto and you’ve got yourself a dynamic duo of 20-somethings that can really play.”
Robles finished his fifth season in the Nationals’ system at .276/.371/.370 line, ten doubles, a triple, and two home runs in 52 games and 226 plate appearances. He made his 2018 debut in the majors in a pinch hit appearance last night.
Maybe tomorrow Robles will get a start, because it’s the (recent) rubber stamp lineup for the Nationals in tonight’s series finale with the Cardinals.