Washington Nationals: Victor Robles headlines AFL participants in 2017
By Ricky Keeler
This month, Washington Nationals top prospect Victor Robles will be part of the team’s contingent at the Arizona Fall League
While the Washington Nationals are hopefully making a deep run in the playoffs in October, some of their prospects will be continuing their year at the Arizona Fall League. In total, there are seven Nats prospects that will be playing for the Mesa Solar Sox with the top prospect at the AFL being outfielder Victor Robles
Robles is on a 16-game hitting streak for the Double-A Harrisburg Senators and is hitting .347 with two home runs, 11 RBI’s, and seven stolen bases in his last 25 games. In his 109 games with Harrisburg and High-A Potomac, the 20-year-old has a slash line of .299/.383/.494 with ten home runs, 47 RBI’s, and 24 stolen bases.
When you look at the Solar Sox outfield, Robles will get to play with Astros top outfield prospect Kyle Tucker. The AFL Is a good showcase for some of the top prospects, so maybe Robles could have the kind of success that Andrew Stevenson had last year.
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Outside of Robles, the Washington Nationals only have two other position player prospects heading to Arizona. Infielder Kelvin Gutierrez is currently on a rehab assignment in the Gulf Coast League, but he was a Carolina League All-Star in the first half for Potomac (.288, two home runs, 16 RBI’s).
While Gutierrez’s numbers might not stand out, he has shown consistency on every level. For example, since 2015, he has been selected to the All-Star Game of the league he was playing in (Auburn in 2015, Hagerstown in 2016).
As for Gushue, he has only hit .205 since the Carolina League All-Star break, but his 18 home runs this year are five more than any player on the Potomac roster. He is tied with Ian Sagdal for the team lead in RBI’s, has a .445 slugging percentage, and has caught 31% of baserunners trying to steal (Baseball Reference).
One pitcher, Dakota Bacus, will be returning back to the AFL. Bacus played for Salt River in 2015 and had a 1.29 ERA in seven appearances. He only has 21 appearances this year, but he has given up only seven runs in 38 innings. Yes, Bacus has 13 strikeouts in his last 14.2 innings, but he gets the job done.
Last offseason, the Nats acquired Jimmy Cordero and Kyle McGowin in separate trades, but neither have had great years in 2017. Across three different affiliates, McGowin is 3-12 in 18 starts with opponents hitting .306. As for Cordero, he has a 6.93 ERA in 40 games and was DFA’ed off the 40-man roster on July 31.
Austen Williams got off to a rough start in 2017 when he went 1-6 with a 6.85 ERA in his first ten starts with Harrisburg. After being sent down to Potomac when activated off the disabled list (June 1-July 5), Williams’s numbers have been better. Outside of a bad outing on July 26, he has given up three runs or fewer in five of his seven starts.
When you look at the Arizona Fall League, it allows players to get more work in if their year was halted by injury or to continue their development. Plus, it allows some of the top prospects in the game to be on a big stage.
Next: What happened to Nats top pitching prospects?
AFL play will begin on October 10, which is scheduled to be Game 4 of the NLDS (if necessary) and it will run until November 18. Some of the games are usually on MLB.com or MLB Network, so if Mesa gets to be on TV, watch Robles and the other Washington Nationals prospects.