Weisman on Robles’ defense: “Close to big league caliber”

Nationals top prospect outfielder Victor Robles is hitting well for the High Single-A Potomac Nationals.

Victor-Robles-swinging-white-P-Nats-sidebar.jpgRobles is hitting .280 through 43 games. He has nine doubles, three triples, six homers, 10 stolen bases, 25 runs scored and 18 RBIs.

P-Nats play-by-play announcer Mike Weisman said on Nats Insider on 106.7 The Fan Sunday that Robles is a high-end prospect for a reason.

Robles has played in 40-plus games so far this season, which is helping him gain valuable pro experience.

“He’s a special player, a special person, a special kid, he’s only 20 years old. I mean that in every positive way, shape or form,” Weisman said.

Robles is ranked by Baseball America as the No. 1 Nats prospect. He is also No. 13 overall in the Top 100.

There has been some concern about Robles getting hit by pitches. In fact, he’s already been hit by a pitch 12 times this season. Last season, he missed games because of a hand injury after getting hit by a pitch.

“He stands very close to the plate,” Weisman said. “It’s how he sets up. Pitchers go inside because he can handle anything on the outside part of the plate. That’s kind of the danger of where he sets up is that he’s right on top of the inside corner. There are pitches that sometimes he has to back out of the way of that end being called for strikes. Aside from getting hit by pitches, so far he’s fortunately been able to avoid any real injuries.

“Last year he got hit in the hand and it sent him out for awhile. About two months ago he got hit and tweaked his hamstring in his leg. Took him a little bit to get going again. But over the last month or so he’s been by far the best player on the team. His average, best on the team, continues to climb. The power has started to develop which I know is probably the last thing that is going to come from a guy that’s still has a lot of room to grow into his own body, being again, 20 years old as of two months ago.”

But maybe a part of Robles’ game that is not talked about enough is his plus-plus potential on defense. Weisman has seen first-hand what Robles can do with his arm to try to stop base runners.

“The arm is elite. He made a play (Saturday) night ... a catch in the outfield, the guy tagged from third, he spun around barely looked at third and threw an absolute strike,” Weisman said. “If it hadn’t been Lynchburg’s fastest guy running from second to third, it would have been another outfield assist. He leads the team with seven outfield assists. He has been a truly special player in every facet of the game so far.”

Weisman noted that Robles is becoming more comfortable in the outfield and understanding how his speed and hit recognition off the bat can be used as an advantage.

“I think the biggest thing that I have noticed this year as compared to last year is how quickly he gets to the right spot,” Weisman said. “He is able to get to the spot where the ball is going to be well before the ball has come anywhere near him. I think that’s something that can be attributed not only to his speed but to his ability to read the defense, the pitching, looking into the catcher and see what the team has going and being able to adjust on the fly. And if he doesn’t get a good break on the ball, his elite speed lets him get to pretty much anything.”

Weisman referenced another close-to-amazing-play Robles attempted to make against Lynchburg Saturday - a play that usually only Major League players can even attempt.

“He nearly made a spectacular play in the alley in right-center field (Saturday) night, diving back towards the outfield wall,” Weisman said. “It’s a play that nobody gets to, let alone makes the catch, and he was within two or three inches of making it. He reminds me of the many of the big-league outfielders who can seemingly make difficult plays look very easy: whether it’s going straight back, coming forward, going side-to-side, he can cover a lot of ground out there.

“His defense is close to, if not already, big league caliber.”

That is why Robles is so valuable, the five plus-plus tools that he has on offense and defense.

All these at-bats in the Carolina League, plus defensive scenarios and experimentation are building his pro experience. Especially on defense, Robles is witnessing and now reacting well to these plays and will eventually these moments will become more commonplace and he will finish the plays with recorded outs that very few others can make.

Programming Note: Make sure to tune into MASN All-Access today with host Sara Perlman at 1 p.m. You can ask us questions on Facebook at MASN Nationals. Also, Bobby and I will have a brand new District 34 podcast coming out later Tuesday. I will also co-host Nats Xtra pregame/postgame Tuesday night with Ray Knight.

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