Prospects Poppin’: Who Is Victor Robles?
Trust and value your sources. Doing so is obviously of great importance when delving into the world of prospects, particularly since it’s impossible to keep track of the roughly 9,712 different minor league players currently getting a paycheck to play baseball. Whether it’s John Sickels of Minor League Ball, Keith Law of ESPN Insider, Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs, Ben Badler or JJ Cooper or any other the other fine folks at Baseball America, the great prospect team over at Baseball Prospectus — you get the idea — when a voice you trust tells you to pay attention to prospect you’ve never heard of, you’re best served as a dynasty league owner to take notice. Hopefully we have a few folks here at The Dynasty Guru whose opinions that you trust and value, and one person whose opinion I value greatly is Jeff Moore of Baseball Prospectus. When Jeff left this little nugget in his Spring Training notebook on March 26th, my ears perked up and I filed it away for later:
“Robles has yet to appear stateside in regular season action, so excitement should be quelled for the moment, but keep it in the queue. This is a name you’re going to hear a lot about soon.”
My first reaction was, “why the hell doesn’t that name ring a bell?” My second reaction was to immediately add him to my watch list (which is up to about 342 minor leaguers at this point) with the intention to monitor his progress this season. I worked my way to the Google machine next and found that Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs had Robles ranked no. 18 on his preseason list of Nationals prospects and said of the center fielder: “He’ll head to the GCL next year and could shoot up this list if the raw tools convert into performance, as he’ll be aged like 2015 draft high school players.” My interest was certainly piqued at that point.
Robles, who checks in at six feet and weighs 185 pounds, was signed for $250,000 as a part of Washington’s 2013 July 2nd class and was sent to their Dominican Summer League squad for his age-17 season. The right-handed hitting Robles clubbed his way to a .313/.408/.484 line during the 2014 season, adding three home runs, stealing 22 bases (in 31 attempts) and striking out in only twenty-six of his 213 plate appearances.
Robles started this season in the Gulf Coast League and wasn’t phased by his first taste of stateside action one bit, hitting a cool .370 and getting on base nearly half the time. Robles’ impressive 1.045 OPS in 94 plate appearances, which included two homers and 12 stolen bases, earned him a ticket to the New-York Penn League and respected names in the prospect world started to offer praise for the Nationals fast-rising prospect:
The Nationals are promoting 18-year-old CF Victor Robles to short-season Auburn. Their No. 6 prospect now, could be No. 1 soon.
— Ben Badler (@BenBadler) July 18, 2015
The New York-Penn League is a level mainly comprised of recent college graduates, and Robles is currently being challenged by players three years his senior on average. He hasn’t been phased by the older competition in his first 14 games of action, winning Player of the Week honors in his first week. Robles (small sample alert) has hit .357/.397/.607 in his first 64 plate appearances, mashing two home runs (among his seven extra base hits) and stealing two bases in four attempts. Scouts have certainly taken notice of Robles this season, with one disclosing to Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs that he would place a 60 overall grade on him. McDaniel conceded that was ‘pretty close’ to where he would have him and for reference — using McDaniel’s preseason list — that would put Robles somewhere between Blake Swihart (ranked no. 9 overall) and Jon Gray (no. 28) on his Top-200 prospect list.
Very little video exists of Robles, but a recent July 31st clip brought to us by ‘mwashuc06,’ the internet’s leader in wobbly prospect footage, shows his bat speed and wheels in action:
The Nationals have uncovered a five-tool performer and a potential six category fantasy beast. Robles is an exciting, fast-rising prospect that is likely available in your league now — but that won’t be the case for much longer. Buy Robles now or the next time you try it’s likely to cost quite a bit more.
J.J. Jansons is a contributor to The Dynasty Guru. Be one of the first to follow him (literally) on Twitter, where you can request future topics to be covered here at TDG. Follow @jansons_jj