The No. 1 rated Nationals prospect is 19-year-old outfielder Victor Robles, who made a nice step up last season, advancing to high Single-A Potomac. Robles is a part of another talented corps of outfielders on the early camp roster with the club in West Palm Beach.
Nationals director of player development Mark Scialabba said they are not altering their plan for Robles, or any other prospect, just because they are ranked so high or coveted by other teams.
“With Victor, obviously the tools are loud and they’re going to play in the game,” Scialabba said. “And he’s going to show them off. But you’re just trying to build a foundation for his career. We want him to be the best player he can be and to be a complete player utilizing those tools properly, just continuing to teach the game in all phases: when to take the extra base, when not to; when to be aggressive, when to stay put; knowing which bases to throw to, understanding game situations; and then offensively really just continuing to build an approach that’s going to work for him.
“He has the bat speed, and the strength in his hands and his body to be a complete hitter to not only hit for average but for power. We want him to continue to work on his approach and then work on two-strike approach. Learn how to bunt, bunt for a hit, be someone that can do it all.”
Scialabba said building the fundamentals in their prospects, like Robles, is the first step. Making sure every play they will face in a game becomes second nature to them when they are confronted with that moment on a particular night.
“There’s a lot of work to be done,” Scialabba said. “Still building that foundation, but he’s a young man who is exciting and fearless. He has the ability to play at higher levels and we just want to make sure he has success along the way. He’s learning the finer points of the game on a daily basis.”
Robles hit .262 with the P-Nats over 41 games. But in his last 10 games in Woodbridge, Robles connected at a .391 clip. That included an amazing run of 15 hits in his last seven games.
“He deserved to be there,” Scialabba said. “He had a great first half. He built off of it. He lost a little bit of time with his hand injury, but he has had a good fall instructional league. He was very good. He looks great physically now, put some good lean muscle on. He is in a great spot right now.”
Robles had his season slowed after getting hit in the hand with a pitch. Do the Nationals now alter Robles approach in stepping out of box on close pitches to avoid repeat of hand injury?
“Well, we always want to tell our players to get out of the way of a pitch if it comes towards them because they can get hurt,” Scialabba said. “I think that is something he is going to learn over time. I know he likes to stand close to the plate and he is fearless. He is going to adjust. We will advise him properly. He will make those adjustments as he goes.
“I don’t see a drastic change to his approach. Those things can happen. You are playing a game where a guy is throwing 98 mph on the inner half. Sometimes that ball runs up and in as you start your swing. He’s not the only one that’s been hit in the hand before. It’s something he will be a little more cognizant of going forward.”