Washington Nationals: The Victor Robles dilemma
By Ron Juckett
Unless the amazing happens, the Washington Nationals plan on Victor Robles starting 2018 in the minors. It remains the best option.
An early emerging story from West Palm Beach is the play of Washington Nationals prospect Victor Robles. Will the phenom force his way onto the big-league roster by Opening Day?
Robles, who made the cup of coffee tour with Washington last year, is close. The highlights of his single-turned double and diving catch from Friday’s Grapefruit League opener make your jaw drop. His instincts grade to top levels.
One small problem, however, as there is no role ready for him in Washington.
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Well, that is a stretch, but there is no smart role for him to start the year for the Nats. At 20, he needs to play every day. Unless there is an unexpected injury in camp, the best way to get him those at-bats and experience is in Triple-A Syracuse with the Chiefs.
It is a paradox as you figure Robles is probably already better than Brian Goodwin. But, Goodwin is a better fit as a fourth outfielder. He can start once or twice a week. Pinch hit when needed and provide late game defensive help without hurting his own progress.
You cannot say the same for Robles. He must play. That is what the smart level baseball head says.
A few more eye-catching highlights this spring and the heart will sing another tune. How can Mike Rizzo and Dave Martinez let him freeze in the cold winds of Lake Ontario?
It is for his own good. Just because you cheated and looked in your parents closet to find you got what you wanted for Christmas, does not mean you play with the PlayStation 4 before Christmas morning.
Although you know he will be in Washington before September, the exact date of Robles’ Christmas morning remains undefined. Until then, it is a magic tease.
Also, it puts pressure on Michael Taylor. Moments after Robles strode into second, some fans took to social media demanding Taylor be traded. That is harsh.
But, as Taylor forced himself into the starting lineup this year with his tremendous performance in Adam Eaton’s absence, if Robles excels in his playing time then there are hard choices. It is not ideal, but it is possible he can force his way on the team.
Taylor or Goodwin could struggle. Although Goodwin is out of minor-league options, in a bizarre-world situation, Taylor has an option remaining. Washington using that option is not probable.
Next: Predicting the Opening Day roster
Enjoy watching the future on display in Florida. Robles will be in Washington when there is a place for him to get regular playing time. Until then, Syracuse is the best place.