Washington Nationals: Five must-watch players in 2018

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 29: Second baseman Trea Turner
ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 29: Second baseman Trea Turner /
6 of 6

Robles got off to a slow start this spring, but in his cup of coffee in the big leagues last summer, he did nothing to sidetrack his status as a top prospect (.250/.308/.458 in 27 plate appearances).

More from District on Deck

After jumping straight from Double-A to the majors last year, Robles will get his first taste of Triple-A this spring in Syracuse, but he shouldn’t be there for long. If any of the Nationals outfielders go down for a long period of time, expect Robles to be on the next plane to D.C.

The consensus top-10 prospect will make an immediate impact in the field and on the base paths, as scouts assigned his speed, arm, and glove at least a 70 grade (80 is the high for scouting). His hit tool is a little further behind – 60 overall and 55 for power – but if his Double-A numbers as a 20-year-old are any indication, he should be just fine.

When Robles is inevitably promoted this season, Washington’s prolific depth will allow Robles to develop at his own pace. The Nationals won’t need him to be a superstar right away, so while he dazzles us with stolen bases and web gems, he’ll be able to work through any issues at the plate without the bright lights that accompany most top prospects.

And eventually, whether its next month or next year, the Nationals will have a pair of speedsters terrorizing opposing batteries. Both Robles and Turner earned 75 ‘speed’ grades as prospects, and we’ve seen how Turner’s grade translates to the majors.

The last pair of teammates to steal 50 bases apiece was Marquis Grissom and Delino DeShields, who stole 76 and 56 bags, respectively, for the Montreal Expos in 1991. (Boston fans dreamt similar dreams when the Red Sox signed Carl Crawford to join Jacoby Ellsbury, and while Ellsbury swiped 52 bases in 2013 for the Sox, Crawford had already been shipped off to Los Angeles).

It’s exceedingly rare to possess two speed threats like Robles and Turner, and even rarer for them to both steal 50 bases. I’m not saying they will ever crack 50 steals together, but it will certainly be special to watch them try.

Next: Five goals for the 2018 season

All statistics courtesy of Fangraphs.