One of the questions surrounding the Nationals this offseason is what they have planned for Victor Robles, their 20-year-old top prospect, in 2018. The center fielder was the youngest player to appear in a major league game last season, but wasn’t overwhelmed in his limited action. He was electrifying. Robles tops the next wave of talent in the Nationals’ farm system, but he already looked like he belonged.
But the Nationals don’t plan on having Robles begin the 2018 season on their major league roster, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. The club wants Robles to play every day and believes the top prospect needs more seasoning before doing that in the big leagues. He’ll get that seasoning with Class AAA Syracuse. Washington, as currently constituted, is projected to have a starting outfield of Adam Eaton, Michael A. Taylor and Bryce Harper with Brian Goodwin as the fourth outfielder.
It was a long, productive year for Robles. He appeared in 114 games between Class A Potomac and Class AA Harrisburg, earning a spot in the Futures Game, before getting an unexpected promotion to the big leagues in mid-September. He impressed at the highest level in 13 regular season games and earned a spot on the playoff roster. Robles then played in the Arizona Fall League, appearing in 13 games for the Mesa Solar Sox and winning the league’s all-star game MVP award. He is now a consensus top-10 prospect across baseball.
Robles could have extended his 2017 by playing in the Dominican Winter League, but he doesn’t plan on playing winter ball, according to people with knowledge of the situation. Robles is on a roster and the Nationals gave him permission to play, but he decided not to, citing fatigue. Robles is also getting married this offseason.
The Nationals have had 11 other players appear in games for five of the Dominican Winter League’s six teams. They range from an established big leaguer (Wilmer Difo) to one of the team’s top 10 prospects (Raudy Read) to an intriguing arm the Nationals believe has a chance to help them next season (Wander Suero).
Below is a snapshot of how those 11 players have performed through Sunday. A few haven’t appeared in a game in a couple weeks, if not longer, while others have recently joined their teams, which often happens in winter leagues.
SS Wilmer Difo, Aguilas Cibaenas
.265 batting average, .741 OPS, 1 HR, 2 2B, 1 3B, 7 K, 5 BB in 13 games
C Pedro Severino, Aguilas Cibaenas
.161 batting average, .519 OPS, 1 HR, 1 2B, 5 K, 3 BB in 10 games
C Raudy Read, Toros del Este
.259 batting average, .852 OPS, 3 HR, 9 K, 0 BB in 7 games
RHP Phillips Valdez, Estrellas de Oriente
0.00 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 6 SO, 2 BB in 9 2/3 IP in 8 games
OF Rafael Bautista, Gigantes del Cibao
.183 batting average, .485 OPS, 1 3B, 11 K, 7 BB, 6 SB in 16 games
LHP Braulio Lara, Tigres del Licey
3.86 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 9 SO, 5 BB in 4 2/3 IP in 6 games
RHP Ronald Pena, Tigres del Licey
3.86 ERA, 1.71 WHIP, 3 SO, 2 BB in 2 1/3 IP in 3 games
RHP Wander Suero, Tigres del Licey
7.56 ERA, 2.40 WHIP, 5 SO, 6 BB in 8 1/3 IP in 9 games (hasn’t pitched since Nov. 11)
C Jhonatan Solano, Tigres del Licey
1 for 14, 6 K in 6 games
SS Osvaldo Abreu, Tigres del Licey
.267 batting average, .579 OPS, 4 K in 6 games (hasn’t played since 10/24)
1B Jose Marmolejos, Tigres del Licey
.222 batting average, .642 OPS, 16 K, 9 BB in 20 games