“People asked me last year, ‘When are we going to see those two guys play together?’” Washington Nationals’ manager Davey Martinez told reporters this Spring, with “those two guys” he was referring to being, of course, outfielders Juan Soto and Victor Robles.
“Well, guess what? You’re going to see a lot of them this year playing together, and it’s going to be fun,” Martinez said.
“They get along really well, they understand each other, and I know they’re going to push each other to be really good.”
Bryce Harper is a Phillie now, having signed a 13-year/$330M deal earlier this month, but the blow was softened some by the presence of Soto, who had a breakout rookie season last summer, and Robles, the top outfield prospect in the organization, who are set to be Washington’s left and center fielders, respectively, on Opening Day.
Juan Soto & Victor Robles:— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) March 15, 2019
️ T̶h̶u̶n̶d̶e̶r̶ ̶&̶ ̶L̶i̶g̶h̶t̶n̶i̶n̶g̶ ⚡️
️ Thunder Buddies ️ pic.twitter.com/6U1D2GlCsa
The two have had a connection for a while now, and have talked about one day playing in the nation’s capital together, and Martinez said he saw a connection between the two last September, when Robles, who injured his elbow early in 2018, was called up to the majors once rosters expanded.
“There was a connection already there between him and Juan, there really was,” Martinez explained.
“They palled around together,” he added. “They hung out together. They started their own little handshake right away, and it was fun to watch.”
Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo talked excitedly this winter about having Soto and Robles out there in the post-Harper outfield.
“[Soto’s] makeup and personality, it’s really — and I don’t say this easily — he’s one of the greatest makeup players I’ve ever signed out of the Dominican Republic,” Rizzo said in an interview on MLB Network Radio.
“This guy gets it. He’s good, he wants to be great. He works extremely hard, he’s extremely respectful, and a guy that came into this season not expecting to be in the big leagues, we didn’t expect him to be in the big leagues that quickly. We brought him to the big leagues by necessity. Eight games beyond A-ball, never playing the position of left field before in his life, and went in the big leagues and we threw him in left field and he hit in the middle of the lineup that was trying to compete for a championship.”
As for Robles?
“[Robles] is a tool box,” Rizzo said.
“He can do a lot of things on the field that are amazing. He’s an elite runner. He’s an elite defender. He’s got a great throwing arm. He’s got sneaky power that he’s just coming into. And he’s proven. His track record in the minor leagues is he’s a high on-base percentage guy. He doesn’t strike out a lot, and he’s the type of guy that we need to keep on the field, but if we keep him on the field, we think that we’re going to have ourselves, early on in his career, a real solid contributor with a chance to be really, really good at the end of his career.”
Is there a more talented, young, and affordable outfield duo out there? It’s going to be fun to watch in 2019. The future is now...