Nationals call up top prospect Robles

Nationals call up top prospect Robles

WASHINGTON -- The phone call left Victor Robles searching for words. He was planning to spend September in the instructional league to prepare before he was bound for the Arizona Fall League this October. Instead, he was informed he would be headed to the Majors.

Robles -- the club's 20-year-old top prospect with five-tool ability that has made him MLBPipeline.com's No. 4 overall prospect in MLB -- was promoted from Double-A to Washington on Thursday as part of the team's September callups. The move came as a bit of a surprise; however, outfielder Brian Goodwin suffered a setback in the rehab of his groin injury, according to manager Dusty Baker, which means he is likely done for the season.

That cleared the way for Robles to enter the fold, although he seems likely to be used as extra outfield insurance. Washington also recalled outfielders Rafael Bautista and Andrew Stevenson from Triple-A Syracuse on Thursday (while transferring right-hander Erick Fedde, the team's top pitching prospect, to the 60-day disabled list to make room for Robles). Baker said he was not entirely sure how much playing time Robles would get, but he could be called upon to pinch-hit or run and Baker said he would try to get him a start or two.

"First, you got to kind of earn your stripes," Baker said. "You're here to learn more than you're here to play."

If Robles does not receive consistent playing time, it would make it difficult to see a way Robles could play himself onto the Nationals postseason roster.

Both Stevenson and Bautista have played with Washington earlier this season, and both have speed and play good defense, so they would likely be ahead of Robles on the depth chart if a spot for an outfielder has opened up on a postseason roster thanks to Goodwin's setback. Baker also said he has heard Robles is still prone to baserunning mistakes at times as a young player, and the postseason would be no time for such an error.

Robles could change things during the next few weeks if he proves he is ready for the Majors right now. In 114 games between Class A Advanced Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg this season, he posted a slash line of .300/.382/.493 with 10 home runs and 27 stolen bases, and the organization raves about his defense in center field.

"I think they think I have something to offer," Robles said through an interpreter.

The Nationals outfield has been ravaged by injuries this season, with the timeline for Bryce Harper's return still uncertain, Jayson Werth out of the lineup Thursday and still nursing a sore shoulder from being hit by a pitch during his Minor League rehab assignment a few weeks ago and now Goodwin seeming unlikely to return. So, with the Nationals prepared to add Robles to the 40-man roster next season anyway, they decided to do it now.

The moment was still special for Robles, who immediately called his parents after receiving the news of his promotion. They were also at a loss for words and Robles said he could sense his father jumping in the air out of excitement.

"This is definitely what I work for," Robles said. "I definitely was surprised to get called up, so young at 20 years old, but I think I have the ability to help the team out. Hopefully, I help them out in any way with my ability."

Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.