After an impressive display in his first Major League action last year, Victor Robles figured to make 2018 his final season in the Minors. But a lengthy absence due to injury largely derailed those hopes for the top-ranked Nationals prospect.
Some struggles at the plate did not brighten his outlook upon returning to the field, but Saturday night’s effort for Triple-A Syracuse represented a big step in the right direction.
Video: Robles gets fourth hit
Robles doubled and scored twice in his second four-hit performance of the season, propelling the Chiefs to an 8-3 victory over Columbus at Huntington Park. MLB.com’s No. 5 overall prospect raised his International League batting average to .240 while busting out of a 2-for-29 funk.
The native of the Dominican Republic lofted a base hit to left field in his first at-bat against starter Josh Tomlin. He got to the veteran right-hander for a double to left leading off the third inning before scoring on Matt Reynolds‘ base hit to right.
Facing righty Shao-Ching Chiang, Robles smacked a single through the left side in the fourth and bounced to third in the sixth. The 6-foot, 190-pounder picked up his fourth hit on a line drive to left to start a five-run ninth before making the final out of the inning with a fly ball to center. Jose Marmolejos knocked in Robles and fueled the outburst with a three-run double.
Robles, 21, bypassed Triple-A and went 6-for-24 (.250) with three extra-base hits and four RBIs in 13 games with the Nationals last September. He followed that with three homers, seven RBIs and a .244/.389/.488 slash line in the Arizona Fall League to show he might be ready for the big stage, even at a young age.
“Victor’s very passionate, a young man who’s obviously very gifted, who can make an impact and play the game in all phases,” Nationals director of player development Mark Scialabba told MiLB.com in April. “He has that youthful energy that sometimes gets him in trouble, but we’d much rather that than have somebody that we have to speed up.”
Gameday box score
Robles’ first four-hit game this season came on April 7 in an opening week that looked as if it would set the tone for a quick return to the Majors. Two days later, however, Robles sustained a hyperextended right elbow while trying to make a catch against Rochester that sidelined him for three months.
Following an eight-game rehab stint in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League and four games with Class A Short Season Auburn, Robles again looked as if he’d hit the ground running after being activated off the disabled list by Syracuse on July 27. He strung together a pair of three-hit games in his first three contests.
“It was like he didn’t miss anything,” Syracuse hitting coach Brian Daubach told MiLB.com on July 28. “He obviously missed 100 games, but I think we did the right thing being careful with it and making sure he was healthy. … He’s a big spark to the team. He brings a lot of energy and a lot of excitement to the bench.”
Unfortunately, Robles fell into a pattern of streakiness, getting hits in three consecutive games at the start of August, then going an 0-for-9 over the next three days. His protracted slump began on Aug. 9 and saw him pick up a pair of singles in the eight games before Saturday.
Marmolejos, Washington’s No. 26 prospect, also delivered a run-scoring single in the third and finished with two hits and four RBIs.
A night after slugging his first Triple-A homer, Indians No. 7 prospect Bobby Bradley hit a two-run single in the opening inning for Columbus.
Gerard Gilberto is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @GerardGilberto4.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.