Victor Robles is so hot right now

Back when the Nationals were awful, I began following prospects so I could dream of better days. I had faith in the likes of Kory Casto, Josh Smoker, and Jack McGeary simply because there was often little else in the system.

Now, the Nationals' system is pretty loaded at the top, with Lucas Giolito, Trea Turner, Joe Ross and friends leading the way. They're all on the verge of becoming full-time big leaguers sooner rather than later, so it's time for me to find some younger prospects to focus on over the next few years. Last year, we had guys like Wilmer Difo and Reynaldo Lopez come out of the woodwork to turn into top 10 prospects, and this year, the hottest name in the system is 18 year old outfielder Victor Robles.

Robles had a great season 2014, posting a .313/.408/.484 triple slash in 213 plate appearances, more than impressive for a 17 year old making his professional debut in the Dominican Summer League. The Nats are being aggressive with him in 2015, starting him in the Gulf Coast League and promoting him to short season A ball Auburn after seeing him hit a hilarious .370/.484/.562 in 23 games. In his first 5 games at Auburn, he's 10 for 20 with a double, two triples, a homer, two walks and a steal.

Over the last month, Robles has gotten an impressive amount of press from respected names:

  • Baseball America bumped him to #6 in their midseason Nationals top prospect list, above Erick Fedde and Wilmer Difo. 
  • Jeff Moore of Baseball Prospectus said "He’d be atop my acquire list if I were a team talking trade deals with the Nationals, though I doubt they’d have any interest in parting with him." 
  • Kiley McDaniels of FanGraphs wrote "Talked to a scout that saw him recently and dropped a 60 overall grade on him. That scale is pretty close to my scale, so he’s at least a 50 FV, maybe better. Moving WAY up the list."
  • Keith Law wrote "Center fielder Victor Robles, signed for just $225,000 in July 2013, has emerged as one of the system's top-10 prospects; he's a plus-plus runner with good feel to hit. Or as one scout told me about him the other day, Robles is 'a GUY.'"
  • Ben Badler of Baseball America tweeted "The Nationals are promoting 18-year-old CF Victor Robles to short-season Auburn. Their No. 6 prospect now, could be No. 1 soon." He also tweeted "Another home run and a stolen base today for Nationals CF Victor Robles in the GCL. That's gonna happen a lot. Jump on the bandwagon now."
  • In the Baseball Prospectus Futures Game Chat, Tucker Blair predicted that Robles would be the youngest player in next year's Futures Game.
  • Jake Seiner of MiLB.com wrote "Perhaps no player in the Minors has seen his stock rise faster since the short-season leagues opened than Robles." 
The Nationals' international scouts deserve credit for discovering Robles in the Dominican Republic and signing him to a $225,000 bonus just over two years ago. At the time, he was seen as a leadoff-type centerfielder, but he's already shown intriguing gap power as well as advanced plate discipline in his professional debut. Robles has the tools to be an elite defensive outfielder, with an excellent arm and great instincts, and looks to be a 4.5 tool player (and an outside chance of being a true 5 tool guy if he can add some more muscle to his 6 foot frame).

Robles is still so young (only turned 18 in May) that he's multiple years away from playing in Washington, but it should be fun to watch him climb his way up both the organizational ladder and MLB top prospect lists.

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