If Victor Robles were any hotter on Friday, he could have lit the candles on his birthday cake just by touching them.
The Nationals' top prospect went 4-for-5 with three RBIs and finished a double short of the cycle, but Class A Advanced Potomac lost to Lynchburg, 11-7, at Calvin Falwell Field. It was Robles' fourth career four-hit game and his first since Aug. 23, 2015 when he was with Class A Short Season Auburn.
Gameday box score
MLB.com's fifth overall prospect battled hamstring tightness in mid-April and was placed on the disabled list on April 20 after he aggravated the injury. He was hitting .333 at the time but a slump brought him down to .229 on May 11. Since then, the 20-year-old has collected multiple hits in five of seven games to bring his average back up to .285.
"He was struggling a few weeks ago, for about a week or so, but he never really went into a shell," Potomac manager Tripp Keister said. "He kept fighting and working hard, and that's what you have to do. Adversity is always there in this game, but how he approaches it is much more mature and advanced with a real understanding of what he has to do."
Robles led off the game with a single to center field and reached on an infield hit in the third. He flied out in the fifth as the Hillcats built a comfortable cushion. The outfielder tried to rally the P-Nats with a two-run homer to right-center in the sixth, adding an RBI triple to center in the seventh that cut the deficit to five.
"He's just very special and someone who just really wants to play baseball," Keister said. "We got off to a rough start tonight and got down a bunch, but he goes out and hits an opposite-field homer and then the triple. When he hit it, you really didn't think he'd get three out of it, but he's so fast and does so many things that make you say, 'Wow.' He's an exciting player who continues to work hard and improve. It's special to see him and the tools he has makes it fun to watch every night."
Robles hit .280/.376/.423 with 37 stolen bases in a career-high 110 games last season with Class A Hagerstown and Potomac. Keister witnessed firsthand what the native of the Dominican Republic could do in 41 Carolina League games last year and he's even more impressed with what he's seen from him in 2017.
"Victor is much more mature in the sense that he can slow the game down," the skipper said. "Last year, he wanted to force the issue on the bases a lot and at the plate. But this year, I see plate discipline improving every day. His ability to read pitchers and get jumps on the bases is better, as are his jumps in the outfield. His entire game is improving and that's a credit to him.
"In [the Carolina League], the amount of times we play other teams lends itself to the opposition having a book on you. This is really the first league where that happens. So they started to pitch to that plan against him and pitched him tough. Maybe he wasn't seeing the ball good or whatever it may have been, but he never quit. When he wasn't hitting, he was helping us win with his defense. That's what I love to see. A guy who may not be getting his hits but is still finding ways to help us win. That shows maturity and how he's grown as a player, teammate and person. Guys need to go through that sort of adversity in order to understand how to get out of it."
Rhett Wiseman hit his fourth homer and drove in two runs for Potomac, which has dropped five of its last six games.
Sicnarf Loopstok doubled and went deep for the second straight game, while Martin Cervenka and Claudio Bautista each chipped in two hits and two RBIs for Lynchburg.