Nats option top prospect Victor Robles to minors

Brian Tinsman
March 20, 2018 - 9:31 pm
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Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

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The Washington Nationals are loaded in the outfield, entering Opening Day with a healthy spread of Bryce Harper, Michael A. Taylor and a healthy Adam Eaton. When those guys need a rare day off, the Nats can turn to veteran utility option Howie Kendrick or Brian Goodwin.

That doesn't leave much room for hot young prospect Victor Robles, who will almost certainly impact the roster in 2018. Just not yet.

On Tuesday, the Nats made the decision to option Robles, sending him to minor league camp with the opportunity to play every day. He will likely get that opportunity at the AAA level in Syracuse, where he has never competed.

That fact alone points to his rapid development as a 20-year-old.

Last year, Robles split time between Potomac (high-A) and Harrisburg (AA) before making the jump to the Major Leagues when rosters expanded in September. In the minors, he hit an astonishing offensive line of .300/.382/.493, despite playing against competition that was an average of four years his senior. 

During the Nats' stretch run to the playoffs, Robles got opportunities thanks to the Nats' large division lead. He had a decent showing, finishing at .250/.308/.458, but was left off the team's playoff rosters with the cautious Dusty Baker at the helm.

He might have forced his way onto the Opening Day roster if Eaton had had a setback this Spring and he had gotten off to a better start in his own right. Instead, Robles made the decision easier by hitting .188 with more strikeouts (12) than hits in 51 at-bats.

By letting him play every day in AAA, the Nationals can ensure that he continues to progress before earning his promotion. They can also properly evaluate Taylor and Eaton, and imagine what life might be like without Harper. This also helps to slow his service time clock, and potentially earn the Nats an extra year of team control before arbitration and free agency.

Whatever the reason(s), Robles will have to earn his next trip back to Washington, D.C.

 

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