Victor Robles has more than impressed in his first weeks in the big leagues, impressive enough that he may be considered for the Nationals postseason roster, Mike Rizzo told The Sports Junkies Wednesday.
The 20-year-old outfielder is hitting .333 over his first nine at-bats, with one double, a triple, two RBI and a 1.067 OPS.
The Nationals General Manager and President of Baseball Operations was asked about Robles in conjunction with the Burke & Herbert Bank Fan Question of the Week.
How impressed have you been with Victor Robles since his call-up? — Calvin in Aberdeen
“Extremely impressed with Victor,” Rizzo said. “Between the lines is one thing — that’s a big reason why we brought him up, to take a look at him — but outside the lines, in the clubhouse and on the charters, in the hotels, this kid is really, really mature beyond his chronological age.”
“He’s really interacting nicely with the veterans on the team,” he said. “The veterans have taken him under their wing and also made him feel part of the organization and part of the clubhouse. His maturity level has really, really impressed me.”
As Robles came up through Washington’s minor league system, his name frequently came up in trade discussions, though the Nationals never budged on relinquishing their five-tool prospect. One of those tools, his blazing speed, was on display last week against Atlanta, when he hit his first-career triple, which nearly turned into an inside-the-park home run on a poor throw to home.
“I thought it was important for him to get a taste of it,” Rizzo said, “but as important for our fanbase to get a look at him. It’s kind of self-explanatory the reason that you just can’t package these guys in trades, because there’s not enough of them in baseball. They’re pretty special.
“And when you are fortunate and talented enough as a scouting staff, like [VP, International Operations] Johnny DiPuglia is, to land one of these guys, they’re tough to move,” he said. “So, he’s been great.”
That speed — comparable to the fear Trea Turner creates on the bases — will likely play a factor in whether Robles ultimately makes the 25-man postseason roster. Creating chaos as an additional pinch-runner would be a major asset in the high-leverage duress the playoffs naturally entail.
“I think he’s gonna be in the conversation,” Rizzo said. “It’s gonna depend on some health of some other players. Goody, he’s coming along. He’s a little bit farther behind Harp is with the grind, but he’s earned the right to make this team, if he’s healthy. But, if he’s not, then [Robles] will be in the conversation. I don’t think Victor will be overwhelmed with the scenarios of playoffs and I think that he brings a great skill set to a team.”
“Those last three or four players are going to be the tough ones to figure out,” he said. “And I think a lot of it will be determined by, ‘What’s our needs? Do we need an eighth reliever in the first round, or do you want to go with seven and an extra bench player? Do you want to go with a long reliever instead of a short reliever, or do you want that extra speed guy to pinch-run and steal a base when you have to?’
“So those are all kind of the strategical questions that we have, but this guy fits into our clubhouse, into our roster and into our lineup for the future very, very comfortably. The future for him is extremely bright.”
“His baseball IQ, he’s much further along in that than I thought he would be,” Rizzo said. “He really knows the game. His skills are really scary. I mean, he can do a lot of things.”