This afternoon the Washington Nationals promoted outfield prospect Victor Robles to the major league roster. He entered 2017 as one of the top prospects in baseball and lived up to that billing. Let’s take a look.
The Nationals signed Robles out of the Dominican Republic in 2013. He wasn’t a super-hyped bonus baby, earning a respectable $225,000 but not rated among the elite players available in that signing window. After a strong showing in the 2014 Dominican Summer League he slaughtered the New York-Penn League in 2015 (.343/.424/.479) and followed up with a solid 2016.
Robles was rated as the top prospect on the pre-season Washington Nationals Top 20 prospects list for 2017 with this comment:
1) Victor Robles, OF, Grade B+/A-: Age 19, signed out of Dominican Republic for $225,000 in 2013; dominated Low-A (.305/.405/.459 with 19 steals in 233 at-bats) and held his own after moving up to High-A (.262/.354/.387 with 18 steals in 168 at-bats); 70-grade speed and 65-grade throwing arm with good instincts make him an excellent defensive outfielder already; uses speed well on the bases, manages the strike zone reasonably, and is young enough to develop more power; makeup also highly-rated; main question is long-term home run projection. ETA: late 2019.
Obviously the ETA proved too conservative, as Robles’ 2017 season was excellent: .300/.382/.493 between High-A and Double-A with 37 doubles, 10 homers, 27 steals, 37 walks, and 84 strikeouts in 430 at-bats.
Robles is listed at 6-0, 185, a right-handed hitter and thrower born May 19, 1997. The physical tools are superior: 70-speed and 70-arm. His raw power is more in the 55 range and he hasn’t fully tapped it yet, but as he matures that should come. Although not a walk magnet he has some feel for the strike zone, keeps his swing-and-misses from getting out of control, and can hit to all fields for distance.
Defensively he has the speed, arm strength, and instincts to thrive in center field. His makeup is also considered first-class.
Although there’s still some uncertainty about how much home run power he will show in the long run, Robles has few weaknesses. His combination of physical tools and baseball skills should make him a special player.