Washington Nationals: Victor Robles Rough Spring Continues

Victor Robles #16 of the Washington Nationals walks to the dugout during the first inning against the New York Mets in game one of a doubleheader at Citi Field on August 12, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images)
Victor Robles #16 of the Washington Nationals walks to the dugout during the first inning against the New York Mets in game one of a doubleheader at Citi Field on August 12, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images) /
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Once a top prospect, Victor Robles is quickly running out of chances in Washington and has continued to look flat this spring.

Entering the 2019 season, Victor Robles was ranked as the fourth prospect in baseball per MLB Pipeline and was seen as the future of the Nationals. He had an impressive 2019 rookie season, hitting .255, with 17 homers, 65 RBIs, and an OPS of .745. But it was Robles’s defense that truly stood out — with the rookie posting 12 outfield assists, 25 DRS, and a 7.0 UZR.

Unfortunately, the speedster has yet to replicate his impressive debut and has quickly regressed. After slashing .220/.293/.315 in 2020, he hit a career-low .203, with two homers, and a .605 OPS in 107 games last year. By the end of August, he was demoted to AAA where he remained for the rest of the season.

Yet at the minors, Robles was able to find some success. In 23 games at AAA, Robles was able to quickly recover his form, slashing .301/.370/.566, with an OPS of .936. His successful minor league stint gave hope that he could bounce back this year. Sadly, he has looked like a shell of his former self this spring, going 0-11 in five spring training games.

The pressure has been mounting so much that it is affecting him on both sides of the field. Over the weekend, Robles sold out and missed on a flyball, leading to a triple for the Mets. Yesterday,  manager Dave Martinez announced Robles would be playing in a minor league game for more experience.

Veteran Dee Strange-Gordon is 33 and hasn’t played in an MLB game since 2020 and spent time with the Reds, Brewers, Cubs, and Pirates last year on minor league deals. With Washington in a rebuild, they should be focused on allowing their young players as much playing time as possible, instead of opting to roll with aging veterans.

This just goes to show how much Robles has struggled this spring. Especially considering Strange-Gordon has primarily spent his career in the middle infield, but is being tested in the outfield.

Martinez and Mike Rizzo have continually reiterated their faith in the soon-to-be 25-year-old, but have made it clear he needs to win his spot. Time will tell if the tweaks Martinez recommended to Robles’s swing works out.

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