The Nationals have been missing one of the Major Leagues' most exciting outfielders in Bryce Harper. Today they're adding one of the Minors' most exciting outfielders to the mix.
Washington is calling up No. 4 overall prospect Victor Robles from Double-A Harrisburg, the organization announced Thursday. Robles needed to be added to the 40-man roster in order to join the Major League club as part of September roster expansion, and No. 3 Nationals prospect Erick Fedde was transferred to the 60-day disabled list (right forearm flexor strain) to make room.
The 20-year-old outfielder is widely considered one of the toolsiest prospects in the game with his hit, run, fielding and arm tools all receiving plus grades or higher from MLB.com at its midseason update.
Robles showed off those skills with Class A Advanced Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg during the 2017 regular season, his fourth in the pros after signing with the Nationals out of the Dominican Republic in July 2013. He hit .289/.377/.495 with seven homers and 16 steals over 77 games in the Carolina League before getting promoted July 24 and proceeded to put up better numbers in the Eastern League. The right-handed slugger hit .324/.394/.489 with three homers and 11 steals in 37 games for the Senators, while his 18-game hitting streak from Aug. 11 to Sept. 1 tied for the longest in the circuit this season.
His 10 homers and 55 extra-base hits in 114 games between both stops were career highs as Robles started to show more power in 2017. His 27 steals trailed only Blake Perkins' 31 for the most among Nationals farmhands.
Video: Harrisburg's Robles leads off with inside-the-parker
Robles will become the second Major Leaguer born in 1997, following Braves infielder Ozzie Albies, who broke through in August.
How the Nationals use their young star will be interesting.
Robles has played mostly center field during his Minor League career, and he could be an asset there defensively right away in the Majors, though Michael Taylor seems to have the position nailed down since Adam Eaton suffered a season-ending ACL tear in April. The Nats have relied on veterans Jayson Werth and Howie Kendrick in the corners of late with Adam Lind and Alejandro De Aza also receiving spot starts over the last week as Harper continues to recover from a bone bruise in his left knee. Robles could be a defensive upgrade over anyone in that group, but Washington may prefer to ease his bat into the lineup while using him primarily as a pinch-runner/late-inning defensive replacement at the outset. It's worth noting that Werth and Kendrick are free agents this offseason, so this could be an opportunity to help Robles get ready for a full-time Major League job next spring.
The Nationals own an 85-54 record with a comfortable 18-game lead over the second-place Marlins in the National League East.