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Nats' Triple-A Chiefs toss a.m. no-no in frigid temps

MLB.com

History repeated itself nearly 18 years later as the Washington Nationals' Triple-A affiliate, the Syracuse Chiefs, completed a team no-hitter against the Indianapolis Indians on Wednesday afternoon.

In a game that began at 10:35 a.m. with the temperature at first pitching registering 37 degrees, the Chiefs defeated the Indians, 5-0, in Game 1 of a doubleheader. Three pitchers, including starter Austin Voth, combined to toss the 17th no-hitter in franchise history. Coincidentally, the club's last no-hitter was also against the Indians on June 17, 2000.

History repeated itself nearly 18 years later as the Washington Nationals' Triple-A affiliate, the Syracuse Chiefs, completed a team no-hitter against the Indianapolis Indians on Wednesday afternoon.

In a game that began at 10:35 a.m. with the temperature at first pitching registering 37 degrees, the Chiefs defeated the Indians, 5-0, in Game 1 of a doubleheader. Three pitchers, including starter Austin Voth, combined to toss the 17th no-hitter in franchise history. Coincidentally, the club's last no-hitter was also against the Indians on June 17, 2000.

• Box score

Voth, 25, was in control from the start of the game, pitching three scoreless innings. He also collected four strikeouts and dropped his ERA to an impressive 1.32 over three starts.

The Chiefs provided Voth with more than enough run support. They jumped out to a 4-0 lead after Jose Marmolejos, the Nationals' No. 22 prospect, and Tuffy Gosewisch provided a pair of RBIs. Rafael Bautista also added a double and scored a run in the game.

After Voth's scoreless outing, he handed duties to reliever David Goforth in the fourth inning. Goforth worked around some trouble and pitched two solid frames. His performance gave him his first win of the season.

The Chiefs turned to relievers Tim Collins and Austin L. Adams to complete the no-hitter. Both pitchers maintained the lead and helped the Chiefs secure the victory in the first leg of the doubleheader.

In the second game of the doubleheader, the Chiefs shut out the Indians once more with a 7-0 victory. Marmolejos hit his second home run of the season with a fourth-inning blast off Indians pitcher Tyler Jones.

The Chiefs improved to 8-4 and the Indians fell to 5-6 on the season.

Jaylon Thompson is a contributor to MLB.com based in Atlanta.

Washington Nationals

Nats' Robles won't need surgery on elbow

Top prospect sustained injury attempting diving catch in Triple-A
MLB.com

Monday marked a good night for the Nationals, as the club erased a five-run deficit to defeat the rival Mets, 8-6, while also getting encouraging news on top prospect Victor Robles. Manager Dave Martinez announced postgame that Washington's No. 1 prospect does not have any tears in his left elbow and will not require surgery.

"There's no tear," said Martinez. "He's got good strength. So we're hoping to get him back, maybe not for a couple of months. He's still going to have a long recovery, but it's not going to be as long as we thought. The good news is there's no tear."

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Monday marked a good night for the Nationals, as the club erased a five-run deficit to defeat the rival Mets, 8-6, while also getting encouraging news on top prospect Victor Robles. Manager Dave Martinez announced postgame that Washington's No. 1 prospect does not have any tears in his left elbow and will not require surgery.

"There's no tear," said Martinez. "He's got good strength. So we're hoping to get him back, maybe not for a couple of months. He's still going to have a long recovery, but it's not going to be as long as we thought. The good news is there's no tear."

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The Nationals placed the 20-year-old Robles on the disabled list retroactive to last Tuesday after the speedy outfielder hurt his elbow trying to make a diving catch for Triple-A Syracuse. Initial estimates had Robles missing up to a year of playing time, but that prognosis has been lowered to a matter of months now with the latest medical update.

Robles was in the mix for the Nationals' fourth-outfielder spot during Spring Training, but he was ultimately reassigned in favor of Brian Goodwin. Robles batted .250 with a pair of triples over 27 plate appearances with the Major League club in 2017.

Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB.

Washington Nationals, Victor Robles

Robles has hyperextended left elbow

Outfielder injured diving for a ball Monday
MLB.com

WASHINGTON -- Nationals top prospect Victor Robles was diagnosed with a hyperextended left elbow, manager Dave Martinez announced after Tuesday's 4-1 win over the Braves. Robles will remain in D.C. until Monday while the club waits for the swelling to go down in his elbow for further evaluation.

Playing for Triple-A Syracuse, Robles popped out in the first inning before he was removed from the game in the bottom of the second when he landed awkwardly on his left arm diving for a ball in center field. Initial X-rays taken Monday night came back negative.

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WASHINGTON -- Nationals top prospect Victor Robles was diagnosed with a hyperextended left elbow, manager Dave Martinez announced after Tuesday's 4-1 win over the Braves. Robles will remain in D.C. until Monday while the club waits for the swelling to go down in his elbow for further evaluation.

Playing for Triple-A Syracuse, Robles popped out in the first inning before he was removed from the game in the bottom of the second when he landed awkwardly on his left arm diving for a ball in center field. Initial X-rays taken Monday night came back negative.

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Tweet from @danfetes: VIDEO: Washington #Nationals top prospect, Victor Robles (ranked No. 6 in MLB), injures his left elbow/wrist after diving for a ball awkwardly in the second inning Monday night in Rochester @MLBPipeline @News_8 pic.twitter.com/uoSCBDK6ya

"When you see the video, I thought he broke his elbow," Martinez said. "Until the swelling goes down, they really can't tell, I don't think, what is really going on. But it is a hyperextension."

It could be potentially a huge setback for the Nationals' No. 1 prospect, and the No. 6 prospect in all of baseball, as rated by MLB Pipeline. Robles has been knocking loudly on the door of the Majors after he got a late-season audition with the team as a September callup in 2017 and flashed his all-around ability.

Robles shined defensively during his time in Spring Training with the Nationals, but he posted a .188/.216/.313 slash line. He was off to a good start with Syracuse, collecting five hits in 13 at-bats with two stolen bases, a pair of walks and just one strikeout.

Robles, 20, batted .250/.308/.458 with a double, two triples, two runs scored and four RBIs in 24 at-bats with the big league club in 2017 after hitting .300/.382/.493 with 55 extra-base hits and 27 stolen bases in 114 games split between Class A Advanced Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg.

On his first career triple on Sept. 15, Robles showed off his game-changing speed. Sprinting from home to third in 11.12 seconds, Robles recorded the fastest time for any Nationals player since Statcast™ began tracking in 2015.

Video: ATL@WSH: Robles plates Lind on first career triple

That raw speed earned Robles a spot on the Nationals' postseason roster for the National League Division Series.

Washington wanted Robles to play every day in the Minors and was not likely to promote him to the Majors until there was a place for him to do so. He was expected to break into the Nationals' crowded outfield picture as soon as this year if he continued to impress at Triple-A. But his injury comes at a particular inopportune time, considering left fielder Adam Eaton could be destined for the disabled list with a bone contusion in his left ankle.

But for now, the Nats are going to focus on getting Robles back to full strength before he returns to the field.

"He'll be missed for sure," Martinez said. "But hopefully it is good news."

Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Washington Nationals, Victor Robles

Where Nats' Top 30 prospects are starting season

MLB.com

With the 2018 season getting started, here's a look at where the Nats' Top 30 prospects are starting the season:

1. Victor Robles (MLB No. 6), OF -- Syracuse Chiefs (AAA)
2. Juan Soto (MLB No. 29), OF -- Hagerstown Suns (A)
3. Carter Kieboom (MLB No. 90), SS -- Potomac Nationals (A Adv)
4. Erick Fedde, RHP -- Syracuse Chiefs (AAA)
5. Seth Romero, LHP -- Extended spring training
6. Luis Garcia, SS/2B -- Hagerstown Suns (A)
7. Yasel Antuna, SS/3B -- Hagerstown Suns (A)
8. Wil Crowe, RHP -- Potomac Nationals (A Adv)
9. Daniel Johnson, OF -- Harrisburg Senators (AA)
10. Kelvin Gutierrez, 3B -- Harrisburg Senators (AA)
11. Blake Perkins, OF -- Potomac Nationals (A Adv)
12. Andrew Stevenson, OF -- Syracuse Chiefs (AAA)
13. Raudy Read, C -- Suspended
14. Luis Reyes, RHP -- Harrisburg Senators (AA)
15. Jackson Tetreault, RHP -- Hagerstown Suns (A)
16. Nick Raquet, LHP -- Hagerstown Suns (A)
17. Jefry Rodriguez, RHP -- Harrisburg Senators (AA)
18. Gabe Klobosits, RHP -- Potomac Nationals (A Adv)
19. Jakson Reetz, C -- Potomac Nationals (A Adv)
20. Pedro Severino, C -- Washington Nationals (MLB)
21. Rafael Bautista, OF -- Syracuse Chiefs (AAA)
22. Jose Marmolejos, 1B/OF -- Syracuse Chiefs (AAA)
23. Jose Sanchez, SS/2B/3B -- Extended spring training
24. Wander Suero, RHP -- Syracuse Chiefs (AAA)
25. Brigham Hill, RHP -- Hagerstown Suns (A)
26. Tomas Alastre, RHP -- Hagerstown Suns (A)
27. Cole Freeman, 2B -- Hagerstown Suns (A)
28. Drew Ward, 3B -- Harrisburg Senators (AA)
29. Telmito Agustin, OF -- Potomac Nationals (A Adv)
30. Anderson Franco, 3B -- Hagerstown Suns (A)

With the 2018 season getting started, here's a look at where the Nats' Top 30 prospects are starting the season:

1. Victor Robles (MLB No. 6), OF -- Syracuse Chiefs (AAA)
2. Juan Soto (MLB No. 29), OF -- Hagerstown Suns (A)
3. Carter Kieboom (MLB No. 90), SS -- Potomac Nationals (A Adv)
4. Erick Fedde, RHP -- Syracuse Chiefs (AAA)
5. Seth Romero, LHP -- Extended spring training
6. Luis Garcia, SS/2B -- Hagerstown Suns (A)
7. Yasel Antuna, SS/3B -- Hagerstown Suns (A)
8. Wil Crowe, RHP -- Potomac Nationals (A Adv)
9. Daniel Johnson, OF -- Harrisburg Senators (AA)
10. Kelvin Gutierrez, 3B -- Harrisburg Senators (AA)
11. Blake Perkins, OF -- Potomac Nationals (A Adv)
12. Andrew Stevenson, OF -- Syracuse Chiefs (AAA)
13. Raudy Read, C -- Suspended
14. Luis Reyes, RHP -- Harrisburg Senators (AA)
15. Jackson Tetreault, RHP -- Hagerstown Suns (A)
16. Nick Raquet, LHP -- Hagerstown Suns (A)
17. Jefry Rodriguez, RHP -- Harrisburg Senators (AA)
18. Gabe Klobosits, RHP -- Potomac Nationals (A Adv)
19. Jakson Reetz, C -- Potomac Nationals (A Adv)
20. Pedro Severino, C -- Washington Nationals (MLB)
21. Rafael Bautista, OF -- Syracuse Chiefs (AAA)
22. Jose Marmolejos, 1B/OF -- Syracuse Chiefs (AAA)
23. Jose Sanchez, SS/2B/3B -- Extended spring training
24. Wander Suero, RHP -- Syracuse Chiefs (AAA)
25. Brigham Hill, RHP -- Hagerstown Suns (A)
26. Tomas Alastre, RHP -- Hagerstown Suns (A)
27. Cole Freeman, 2B -- Hagerstown Suns (A)
28. Drew Ward, 3B -- Harrisburg Senators (AA)
29. Telmito Agustin, OF -- Potomac Nationals (A Adv)
30. Anderson Franco, 3B -- Hagerstown Suns (A)

Nationals prospect coverage | Nats Top 30 prospects stats

Team to watch
Three of the Nationals' Top 10 prospects, all hitters, will comprise a Class A Hagerstown lineup this year that's teeming with young, high-ceiling talent. Led by Top 100 prospect Soto, the Suns will also feature teenagers Garcia and Antuna on the infield along with Freeman, the organization's fourth-round pick in the 2017 Draft. Hagerstown should be plenty deep on the mound, too, as Hill will get the Opening Day nod in a starting rotation that includes fellow 2017 Draft picks Tetreault and Raquet.

Where baseball's top prospects are starting the 2018 season

Teams on MiLB.TV
Syracuse Chiefs (AAA)
Harrisburg Senators (AA)

New faces
The Nats' Top 30 Prospects list doesn't include any players who were not with the organization last year.

On the shelf
Read will miss the first 80 games of the season after testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug in February. The 24-year-old catcher broke out in 2017, hitting a career-high 17 homers in Double-A before appearing in eight games with the Nationals as a September callup. 2017 first-rounder Romero, meanwhile, will break camp in extended spring training after the left-handed pitcher was sent home from Spring Training for a violation of team rules.

Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.

Washington Nationals

Wieters lands on DL with oblique strain

Nationals recall prospect Severino to fill roster spot
MLB.com

ATLANTA -- Near the end of Spring Training, Nationals catcher Matt Wieters developed some tightness in his left side. He had been able to play through it -- enough to start the first two games of the season behind the plate -- but he felt fatigued by the end of the game.

On Monday, the Nationals decided to exercise caution by placing Wieters on the disabled list with a mild left oblique strain. Pedro Severino, the club's No. 20 prospect as ranked by MLB Pipeline, was recalled in his place.

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ATLANTA -- Near the end of Spring Training, Nationals catcher Matt Wieters developed some tightness in his left side. He had been able to play through it -- enough to start the first two games of the season behind the plate -- but he felt fatigued by the end of the game.

On Monday, the Nationals decided to exercise caution by placing Wieters on the disabled list with a mild left oblique strain. Pedro Severino, the club's No. 20 prospect as ranked by MLB Pipeline, was recalled in his place.

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Oblique injuries can be difficult to manage, especially for a catcher. Wieters was optimistic Monday that he will be able to return after his 10-day stint on the DL, however, because of his performance on some of his strength tests. He is not expected to swing a bat during the next few days while the team is in Atlanta, and will instead focus on strengthening and maintenance exercises for his oblique.

"I think the big thing is we want to make sure we catch it early and get it right, before we get back out there," Wieters said. "The oblique is something that can keep you out for a while that you don't want to be out for, so I think we're doing the smart thing here and taking a step back."

Even with Wieters' status unclear earlier in the day, the Nats did not want to get caught without a backup catcher, especially considering they already have a short bench. So they summoned Severino, who was packing a bag for Triple-A Syracuse, to meet the team in Atlanta. He started behind the plate during Monday night's 8-1 victory and reached base five times, collecting a pair of hits, a pair of walks and reaching on a hit-by-pitch.

"I'm proud of him. He did a great job," manager Dave Martinez said. "My concern with him is not really his hitting, it's catching the way he did today. That was outstanding. If he can do that for us, that's what we want him to do. We want him to call a good game and catch like he did today."

Video: WSH@MIA: Severino catches Brinson stealing second

Severino will split time with veteran Miguel Montero in Wieters' absence, although Martinez would not commit to a straight platoon between the left-handed Montero and right-handed Severino.

"We're just going to kind of mix and match," Martinez said. "I like Miggy. I liked what he did yesterday. He's going to get an opportunity to play. So is Sevy."

Wieters is 1-for-7 this year with a pair of walks. He did not appear to be hampered in any way, but after working on adjustments during Spring Training focused on getting his lower half more involved with his swing, he found himself limited through the first weekend.

"That's kind of like OK, we're in Game 2," he said. "We want to be able to take some of the things we've done in Spring Training and bring it into the season. So let's get back to being able to move like we want to be able to move, and go from there."

Murphy graduates from treadmill
Daniel Murphy ran on the field hours before Monday's game in Atlanta, the first time he has done so since undergoing microfracture surgery on his right knee during the offseason. He had been limited to running on a treadmill prior.

Video: WSH@CIN: Murphy takes BP, takes grounders before game

It was another positive step for Murphy, who has continued to take batting practice on the field with the team, and ground balls at second base.

"I wasn't necessarily focused on the pace, it was more of kind of getting my stride length correct," Murphy said. "I think anybody who's been hurt, as much as anything, it's retraining your brain that you can handle the movement even if there's no discomfort, which there wasn't. Still have to retrain my brain, it's the first time I've hit the ground in almost six months."

Worth noting
• Right-hander Joaquin Benoit is still shut down from throwing as he nurses a right forearm strain back in West Palm Beach, Fla.

A.J. Cole is scheduled to make his season debut on Tuesday, and right-hander Jeremy Hellickson will throw at extended Spring Training as he continues to build his stamina.

Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Washington Nationals, Pedro Severino

Nats summon Severino as Wieters goes on DL

No. 20 prospect joins team in Atlanta; catcher out with left oblique strain
MLB.com

ATLANTA -- Nationals catcher Matt Wieters went on the 10-day disabled list with a mild left oblique strain, president of baseball operations Mike Rizzo announced Monday. In a corresponding move, the team recalled Pedro Severino, the club's No. 20 prospect as ranked by MLB Pipeline.

The Nats had already been playing with a short bench, and they did not want to be caught without a backup catcher.

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ATLANTA -- Nationals catcher Matt Wieters went on the 10-day disabled list with a mild left oblique strain, president of baseball operations Mike Rizzo announced Monday. In a corresponding move, the team recalled Pedro Severino, the club's No. 20 prospect as ranked by MLB Pipeline.

The Nats had already been playing with a short bench, and they did not want to be caught without a backup catcher.

View Full Game Coverage

Wieters did not play in Sunday's series finale in Cincinnati as part of a scheduled day off to get catcher Miguel Montero into a game early in the season so he does not sit for too long. Wieters did play catcher the first two games of the year and went 1-for-7 at the plate with a pair of walks. He finished both games and did not appear to be hampered in any way.

Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Washington Nationals, Pedro Severino, Matt Wieters

Martinez open to Harper hitting leadoff for Nats

Club's top pitching prospect Fedde optioned to Triple-A
MLB.com

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- When first-year manager Dave Martinez arrived to the Nationals, he promised to be creative. On Thursday afternoon, he entertained an interesting potential lineup idea.

Would he ever consider Bryce Harper hitting leadoff?

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- When first-year manager Dave Martinez arrived to the Nationals, he promised to be creative. On Thursday afternoon, he entertained an interesting potential lineup idea.

Would he ever consider Bryce Harper hitting leadoff?

"Maybe," Martinez said. "We'll talk about it. Play with it, but before I do, I'll definitely have a conversation with him.

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Martinez actually asked Harper how he would like leading off before a Grapefruit League game on Saturday against the Mets; Harper smiled and said yes. He did so then because Martinez wanted him to get his two at-bats quickly before he left the game, but perhaps on some occasions during the regular season, the 2015 National League Most Valuable Player Award winner could also serve as the Nats' table-setter.

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"I think he's all up for anything really," Martinez said. "He just wants to help the team win. … We'll preach a lot about scoring first. I think teams that score first put a lot of pressure on the other team, especially with the lineup that we have."

Harper hitting atop the Nats' lineup would not be an everyday occurrence, and it's not even a sure thing it will happen at all. Martinez has said Adam Eaton will be his primary leadoff hitter, but Martinez wants to manage Eaton's workload as he works his way back from a torn left ACL. Harper has started 16 career games in the leadoff spot, but none since 2013. In 76 plate appearances batting first, Harper owns a .413 on-base percentage with four home runs and a 1.007 OPS.

Martinez was explaining his reasoning behind having the pitcher potentially bat eighth at times this season, which brought up the possibility of Harper leading off. Having Michael A. Taylor or Wilmer Difo hit ninth in that lineup construction sets up Harper for potential RBI opportunities atop the lineup. Washington has two potential leadoff hitters in Eaton and Trea Turner, but perhaps there will be a situation where Martinez could change things up.

"For us, say you have a tough matchup. A guy that wears us out a little bit, maybe you want to try," Martinez said. "We're struggling a bit offensively, create something early, create some excitement. What better excitement than having Harper lead off with a homer?"

Video: DET@WSH: Harper rips a two-run home run in the 3rd

Fedde optioned to Triple-A
The Nationals were impressed this spring with right-hander Erick Fedde, their top pitching prospect according to MLB Pipeline, who provided a bounce-back showing from a disappointing Major League debut last season. In Grapefruit League play this year, Fedde pitched in six games (two starts) and posted a 2.45 ERA and 11 strikeouts in 14 2/3 innings.

• Nationals' Top 30 prospects

However, there is no room for Fedde, who just turned 25 in February, in Washington at the moment with A.J. Cole poised to start the season as the club's No. 5 starter, so the Nats optioned him to Triple-A Syracuse prior to Thursday's game against the Mets.

"I saw somebody who, to me, throughout the whole spring, gained confidence," Martinez said. "That last outing, you could tell he was confident. He knows his fastball's back. His two-seamer's really good, he can throw a four-seamer 97, his breaking ball was good, his changeup is really good. That's good to see. A player who gains confidence like that, the sky's the limit."

Video: WSH@HOU: Fedde strikes out three over three innings

Most encouraging to the Nationals was his returned and increased velocity, which climbed back into the mid-to-upper 90s this spring after it diminished last season when he made his Major League debut. He made three starts for the Nats last season and posted a 9.39 ERA, and his fastball averaged 93 mph, but it fell into the low 90s and high 80s before he was shut down in September.

Fedde bounced back nicely this spring to clear any lingering concerns. The Nats still view him as a potential mid-rotation starter and someone who will be a contributor in D.C. at some point this season.

"He had a really good Spring Training," Martinez said. "The velo is back, which is nice. The conversation was very honest. I told him, 'Hey, at some point you're going to help us. So just go down there, knock the door down and continue to develop and be good. Because you're good."

Roark, Kelley not concerned about rough outings
Right-handers Tanner Roark and Shawn Kelley struggled during Thursday night's 12-5 loss to the Mets, but neither was concerned.

After three scoreless innings, Roark gave up nine runs and didn't make it out of the fourth inning. He was encouraged with his progress from the windup and said he ran into some inconsistencies pitching from the stretch in the fourth.

"Get all the bugs out now," Martinez said. "That's why we have Spring Training."

Roark will have another start in Florida to work out those mechanics. He will remain at the team's complex in West Palm Beach, Fla., after the club breaks camp on Sunday to keep working and rejoin the team for Opening Day, to avoid a long layoff before he starts the team's fourth game.

Video: WSH@NYM: Roark strikes out Rosario in 2nd frame

Kelley gave up three runs and a pair of homers in his second outing back after missing about five days in camp for a personal matter. Martinez acknowledged that Kelley was still playing catchup, and the reliever admitted it was difficult to match the same intensity at this point in the spring as he would for the regular season.

"You don't want to give up home runs and have ugly numbers in spring, but at the same time, I showed up pretty ready to go, moreso than usual, and pitched good right out of the gate," Kelley said. "To be honest, and it's a shame on me because I'm a veteran, but my motivation and adrenaline is just not there right now."

Up next
The Nationals are in split-squad action on Friday night with Cole starting at home against the Astros at 6:05 p.m. ET, while Jeremy Hellickson makes his Grapefruit League debut in Jupiter, Fla., at 7:05 p.m. ET against the Marlins. Both games can be viewed live on MLB.TV.

Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Washington Nationals, Erick Fedde, Bryce Harper

Nats send top prospect Robles to Minors

MLB.com

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Even as Victor Robles continued to impress during his first Major League camp, there was always the issue of whether there was any room in the Nationals' crowded outfield for him to start the season in the Majors.

Washington has insisted that Robles -- the Nationals' top prospect and MLB Pipeline's No. 6 overall prospect -- will play every day to start the season. Once left fielder Adam Eaton and center fielder Michael A. Taylor returned to Grapefruit League action this past weekend and proved they were healthy, there was no room in D.C. for Robles to do so. That made the Nationals' decision Tuesday afternoon always seem inevitable. Robles was optioned to Triple-A Syracuse before the team's 8-3 win over the Marlins.

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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Even as Victor Robles continued to impress during his first Major League camp, there was always the issue of whether there was any room in the Nationals' crowded outfield for him to start the season in the Majors.

Washington has insisted that Robles -- the Nationals' top prospect and MLB Pipeline's No. 6 overall prospect -- will play every day to start the season. Once left fielder Adam Eaton and center fielder Michael A. Taylor returned to Grapefruit League action this past weekend and proved they were healthy, there was no room in D.C. for Robles to do so. That made the Nationals' decision Tuesday afternoon always seem inevitable. Robles was optioned to Triple-A Syracuse before the team's 8-3 win over the Marlins.

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Robles started off on an impressive roll at the plate and in the field during his first Major League Spring Training. It was as if he made a diving play every other day. He flashed all of his five tools routinely and was batting .353 on March 2. It was thought that perhaps, after cracking the Majors last September and forcing his way onto the postseason roster with his performance, that Robles could once again make a push to change the Nationals' plans to start him in the Minors.

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But Robles had cooled off recently, especially at the dish. Opposing pitchers had started targeting him with breaking balls off the plate and he struggled to adjust. In 48 Grapefruit League at-bats, he compiled a slash line of .188/.216/.313 with a home run, six RBIs and two stolen bases.

"I think the only difference I see in his game right now is he's got a real sense of calmness here in camp," general manager Mike Rizzo said last week. "When he came up last year, obviously a 19-year-old in the big leagues for the first time, playoff roster, his energy level was abounding. This year it's more like a sense of calmness, like he really belongs here."

Video: WSH@HOU: Robles lays out to make a tremendous grab

Considering the Nationals have such high expectations for Robles' future, and how loudly he continues to knock on the door to the Majors, it is easy to forget that Robles is just 20 years old and has never played a game at Triple-A. It remains to be seen how quickly he will arrive in Washington, but once he does, the Nationals would like him to be ready to remain there for good.

"He needs to play every day," manager Dave Martinez said. "And continue to develop. That's the big key for him. He's going to help us win many games, not only this year but for many many years, so we want him to keep developing."

And this spring has seemingly only reiterated the fact that Robles' day as a starting outfielder in D.C. is coming sooner rather than later.

Worth noting
Stephen Strasburg was a bit shaky in his latest spring outing on Tuesday. Strasburg gave up three runs on eight hits in 4 1/3 innings on a humid afternoon in the Nationals' win over the Marlins.

Bryce Harper launched a solo home run to straightaway center field in the sixth inning on Tuesday. He is now batting .371 this spring with a 1.079 OPS.

Video: MIA@WSH: Harper belts a two-run homer to center field

• In addition to Robles, the Nationals also re-assigned right-hander Ismael Guillon to Minor League camp.

Up next
The Nationals will host the Astros on Thursday afternoon at 1:05 p.m. ET at the FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, live on MLB.TV. Left-hander Gio Gonzalez will take the mound for his fourth Grapefruit League start.

Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Washington Nationals, Victor Robles

Prospect Q&A: Nationals' Daniel Johnson

MLB.com

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- As part of MLB Pipeline's visit to all 30 Spring Training facilities, we're sitting down with prospects and getting to know them a little better. At Nationals camp, it was Washington's No. 9 prospect, Daniel Johnson.

Unrecruited out of high school, Johnson had to work his way from junior college and walk his way on to the New Mexico State team. Even after a huge junior year (.382/.434/.630), he flew under the Draft radar. The Nationals saw enough in him to take him in the fifth round of the 2016 Draft and he rewarded their faith by playing across two levels of A ball and turning in a 20-20 season. He capped things off by taking advantage of an opening in the Arizona Fall League created when Victor Robles was put on the Division Series roster in Washington.

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- As part of MLB Pipeline's visit to all 30 Spring Training facilities, we're sitting down with prospects and getting to know them a little better. At Nationals camp, it was Washington's No. 9 prospect, Daniel Johnson.

Unrecruited out of high school, Johnson had to work his way from junior college and walk his way on to the New Mexico State team. Even after a huge junior year (.382/.434/.630), he flew under the Draft radar. The Nationals saw enough in him to take him in the fifth round of the 2016 Draft and he rewarded their faith by playing across two levels of A ball and turning in a 20-20 season. He capped things off by taking advantage of an opening in the Arizona Fall League created when Victor Robles was put on the Division Series roster in Washington.

• Nationals' camp report

MLB Pipeline: Last year, it was your first Spring Training and you were maybe unsure of what your first year would be like, what to expect. Now, after the year you had, and you're more comfortable in the pro game, does it feel much different?

:: MLB Pipeline Spring Training reports ::

Johnson: The transition is the biggest thing. Coming in to my second Spring Training, knowing what I have to do, I'm more organized. I'm not panicking, running around wondering where to go. The year I had, I don't want to say it solidified me, but it made me feel a lot more comfortable after that transition from college to the pros. I'm more prepared for the next season.

MLB Pipeline: You were able to get some at-bats in some big league games this spring. What was that experience like?

Johnson: I think it was like the Fall League, honestly. I pretty much faced the same guys towards the end of the game. It wasn't overwhelming. I didn't want to think about it too much. I just went in there to do what I usually do.

MLB Pipeline: You started your first full season in 2017 in Low A and got promoted to High A. What were the differences you saw in the levels?

Johnson: Really, I didn't see a big difference between Low A and High A. There were more strikes, but pitching-wise, velocity, it was all the same to me. I thought a bigger difference was going from High A to the Fall League and facing those guys. That was a little bit of an adjustment to make.

MLB Pipeline: Overall, I would imagine your Fall League experience was great, especially since you didn't know you were going until somewhat last minute. What did you take away from the experience overall?

Johnson: I took a lot away from it, adjustments that I needed to make. Offensively, defensively, the pace of the game, things like that. The overall experience will really help me for this next season.

MLB Pipeline: From that Fall League experience, as you get ready to hit the upper levels, what are some of the things you realized you needed to work on to continue having success?

Johnson: Offensively, being ready to hit all of the time and really being disciplined. Pitchers know how to pitch, so you may get a fastball and if you don't swing, you might not get that again. You really have to have an approach up there and really know what you want to do.

MLB Pipeline: You've had to prove yourself everywhere you've had to go. You weren't recruited out of high school and you weren't a big Draft prospect, either. Do you have a chip on your shoulder about it that motivates you, or did you just say, "If this is how it's going to be, then this is how it's going to be?"

Johnson: Pretty much I just go with the flow. If that's how it's going to be, then we can do it the hard way. It doesn't matter to me; I don't mind proving myself. Adversity has always been a key part of me being successful, so it's a self-motivation type of thing that gets me going.

MLB Pipeline: There must have been certain points of time where you said to yourself, "What do I have to do to get noticed?"

Johnson: It was always like that. In high school, I wasn't heavily recruited by any Division I schools. Even in college, I was still a walk-on. It was always, "What can be that one thing I will do that will get somebody's attention?" Having that mindset really helped me to keep working hard at every aspect of the game.

MLB Pipeline: The Nationals are the ones who have thought the most highly of you by taking you in the Draft. Do you feel you need to go out and prove they were right to believe in you?

Johnson: Part of me wants to prove them right, but at the same time, I just want to keep playing my game. I don't want to try to do more than I usually do.

MLB Pipeline: When you entered pro ball, you were a guy people noticed had top-of-the-scale speed, and maybe you had some pop. Then you went out and had a 20-20 season. Were you even surprised by your power output in 2017?

Johnson: I knew I always had power, but I think I figured out how to use it and how to use my whole body, that connection when swinging the bat. I think that's what I really figured out, one thing that really helped me.

MLB Pipeline: So are you still a speed guy with some power, or are you a power-speed guy now?

Johnson: I'm definitely a speed guy with some power. I'm not going to go out there and try to give you 20 more homers. If it happens, it happens. But I want to get on base, steal bases and run down balls in the outfield.

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.

Washington Nationals

Prospect report: Nationals camp

MLB.com

Every Spring Training, prospects get a chance to show what they can do as they prepare for the upcoming season. Some compete for jobs in big league camp, while others vie for spots on Minor League affiliates. MLB Pipeline will visit all 30 camps this spring, and today we check in on the Nationals.

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Over the last six years, the Nationals have won the National League East four times. In that stretch of time, the farm system has often been used as trading chips to bring in big league talent that has helped extend the winning.

Every Spring Training, prospects get a chance to show what they can do as they prepare for the upcoming season. Some compete for jobs in big league camp, while others vie for spots on Minor League affiliates. MLB Pipeline will visit all 30 camps this spring, and today we check in on the Nationals.

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Over the last six years, the Nationals have won the National League East four times. In that stretch of time, the farm system has often been used as trading chips to bring in big league talent that has helped extend the winning.

Nationals' Top 30 Prospects list | Q&A with Daniel Johnson

They've managed to do so without necessarily giving up their top prospects. That has allowed them to hold on to and help develop No. 1 prospect Victor Robles, who is now No. 6 on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 list. Nationals fans got a glimpse late last year, and the tools are undeniable. Sometimes it's easy to forget, since he's knocking on the door so loudly and he's still only 20.

:: MLB Pipeline Spring Training reports ::

"He's still a young player," assistant general manager Doug Harris said. "From a physical standpoint, there's a lot of growth to be made there. Who knows where that takes him as a player? There's a lot of parts to his game we're still just scratching the surface on. It's going to be exciting for everybody to watch it."

While the Nats' overall system isn't one of baseball's 10 best, it's far from weak. Most of the talent is much farther away than Robles is now, but one of the benefits of always competing is the farm system doesn't feel as much pressure to push guys quickly. So that talent that is years away can be given time to cultivate properly. What Robles is on the precipice of becoming is a testament to those efforts.

"First and foremost, Johnny DiPuglia and Kris Kline do a great job with back-filling the system," Harris said of the men who oversee international and domestic amateur scouting. "They've done a great job supplementing the system. Mike has been able to use that effectively at the Major League level.

"Philosophically, we've always been committed to building a foundation early, so through the A ball level, some people might say it's slow early. That's fair, but we're committed to building that foundation. Once a guy gets to Double-A, we want him to be prepared, or shortly thereafter, where he becomes an option at the Major League level. I think Victor is a great example of that."

Much of this talent is just establishing itself at the lower rungs of the system. Juan Soto and Carter Kieboom, the Nos. 2 and 3 prospects in the system, would have been perhaps up a notch or two, but injuries in 2017 kept them off the field for most of the season. Four other members of the top 10 have yet to play above short-season ball.

"Some of the younger guys we really like are going to become more highly publicized as the season progresses," Harris said. "You're going to have a really young group at the lower level that is very athletic with a very interesting skill set, along with some pitching that has some arm strength and size. We really like the group we had in here early, for an early camp. It's as talented as we've been in several years."

Depth up the middle

Not only do the Nats have Kieboom, their first-round pick from 2016, playing shortstop, but the aggressive moves on the international market in 2016 netted a trio of infielders who have shortstop on their very brief professional resumes. No. 6 prospect Luis Garcia, No. 7 Yasel Antuna and No. 23 Jose Sanchez all made their U.S. debuts in the Gulf Coast League last summer. Even with defensive shifts all the rage, having three shortstops playing simultaneously would really be revolutionary.

"If they are everyday bats and they don't end up as a shortstop or second baseman, that's great," Harris said. "We intend to be a winning and contending ballclub and if they can be an everyday bat in that lineup, then if they're at second, short, third, left field, right field, whatever it might be, that's significant for us."

They all have different skill sets and body types, which point to the eventuality of position switches. Sanchez is the most advanced defender of the group, Antuna might have the highest ceiling in terms of his physicality and Garcia has a natural feel to hit.

"Physically, they are a long way from their ceiling and that's the driver of the whole thing, where their bodies go," Harris said. "We think a few of these guys have enough bat that, regardless of if they move off the middle, it's going to be plenty."

Video: Fedde and Stevenson on receiving good advice

Camp standouts: the arms

A pair of 2017 draftees lead the group of the pitchers Harris referred to, at least in terms of how they've looked this spring. His eyes really lit up when talking about Wil Crowe, the second-rounder out of South Carolina who had Tommy John surgery during his college career and is now 23 as a result.

"He did a really nice job this offseason, really committed to his body and finding a routine," Harris said the team's No. 8 prospect. "He's made really nice strides. He came to us with a heavy workload last summer, so we were very mindful of what we did with him, it was very scripted. This year gives us the chance to turn him loose. He really found a nice routine. He spent the winter with our strength and conditioning coordinator, kind of changed his body. I really like what we're seeing out of him.

"He was here when the big leaguers were here every day. He really dedicated himself, not just in this season, but his foundation going forward. I think that's very noteworthy for a young player."

Harris also likes what he's seen from No. 15 prospect Jackson Tetreault, the Nats' seventh-round pick out of State College of Florida Manatee-Sarasota. A bit of a late bloomer, he'll be hitting full-season ball with Crowe.

"He has a really good arm, it's a really quick arm," Harris said. "He has a lean, angular body and he's athletic. He has a lot of room to add some strength, but the ball really jumps out of his hand. We're excited to see where that takes him."

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.

Washington Nationals

Cole feels better after missing start with illness

Righty among pitchers competing for fifth spot in rotation
MLB.com

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Nationals right-hander A.J. Cole, the favorite to win the club's fifth-starter spot, is feeling much better after an illness prevented him from starting Monday's game against the Tigers.

Cole was able to throw a side session Monday while the club was on the road.

View Full Game Coverage

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Nationals right-hander A.J. Cole, the favorite to win the club's fifth-starter spot, is feeling much better after an illness prevented him from starting Monday's game against the Tigers.

Cole was able to throw a side session Monday while the club was on the road.

View Full Game Coverage

"The good news is he's feeling better," manager Dave Martinez said. "He had like a regular side day, and he felt good."

Cole had been slotted this spring into the No. 5 spot in the team's rotation. While Martinez said he will work on slotting Cole back into that spot, he did not want to commit to anything further Tuesday about Cole's status in the rotation competition.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

"We haven't made any decisions on it," Martinez said. "Of course, A.J.'s in the mix, but we've seen a lot of good things out of other people. Right now it's still up in the air, and we'll see where it goes."

Nats trim roster
The Nationals made another round of roster cuts following Tuesday night's 7-4 victory against the Mets, including a few impressive relievers that could make an impact in Washington at some point this season.

Right-hander Wander Suero, outfielder Rafael Bautista and first baseman Jose Marmolejos were optioned to Triple-A Syracuse, while left-hander Bryan Harper, right-hander Jaron Long and catcher Jhonatan Solano were reassigned to Minor League camp.

Harper, the older brother of Bryce, was in his first Major League camp and got his first chance to pitch after he underwent Tommy John surgery that caused him to miss last season. He made five appearances and gave up three runs on six hits in five innings with a pair of walks and two strikeouts.

"From where he was last year to now, I mean to come here in camp and pitch in the big leagues, it's incredible," Martinez said. "I know he was excited about it, and he'll build from that. I told him you just have to continue to build your arm strength and get stronger, but I said you're going to be fine. He gained a lot of confidence in camp and that's good to see."

Video: WSH@DET: Bryan Harper retires Alcantara to earn save

Suero was also impressive this spring before some tightness on his left side last week derailed his progress. But in four innings he did not allow a run and struck out seven. The only thing Martinez wanted him to focus on for now was getting healthy.

"I know it was a freak thing, but he's got to be healthy," Martinez said. "He had a great camp 'til then. I loved what I saw."

Glover still shut down
Washington has still not offered much of an update for right-hander Koda Glover, who has still not been cleared to resume throwing after he was shut down earlier this spring with minor inflammation on his right shoulder.

Once considered a part of the Nats' Opening Day bullpen, Glover arrived at camp complaining of a sore shoulder, and an MRI revealed some inflammation. Martinez did not offer a timeline on when Glover might start throwing again, only that he was focused on strengthening his shoulder again.

"We want him to be 100 percent strength-wise before he starts throwing again," Martinez said. "We've got a great medical staff, so he's being monitored. They put him on a program. And it just all depends on how he reacts."

Quoteable
"I'm happy for Jake. He's a competitior, and I know it was eating him up being at home. It's unfortunate that he's in our division, but I'm happy with the guys we got. I really am. We're going to compete every day, and we've got a good product that we put out every day on the field, and I'm looking forward to it." -- Martinez on Jake Arrieta signing with the National League East rival Phillies.

Up next
After an off-day Wednesday, the Nationals host their Spring Training roommates, the Astros, at 1:05 p.m. ET on Thursday at the FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. Tommy Milone, a non-roster invitee who could be in the mix for the final rotation spot, will take the mound. Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon and Trea Turner will be on the field behind him. The game will be available on Gameday Audio.

Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Washington Nationals, A.J. Cole

Robles, Soto give Nats OF tandem to dream on

MLB.com

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Victor Robles and Juan Soto were born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, a little more than one year apart. They rank among the top 30 prospects in baseball, according to MLB Pipeline -- Robles at No. 6, Soto at No. 29. They were signed by the same Nationals scout, Modesto Ulloa.

Three times this spring, Robles and Soto have appeared for the Nationals in the same Grapefruit League game. Monday's 5-4 win over the Tigers was the latest. Robles went 0-for-3 but made a sublime shoestring catch in right field. Soto replaced him in right and drove in two runs, with a double and bases-loaded walk.

View Full Game Coverage

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Victor Robles and Juan Soto were born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, a little more than one year apart. They rank among the top 30 prospects in baseball, according to MLB Pipeline -- Robles at No. 6, Soto at No. 29. They were signed by the same Nationals scout, Modesto Ulloa.

Three times this spring, Robles and Soto have appeared for the Nationals in the same Grapefruit League game. Monday's 5-4 win over the Tigers was the latest. Robles went 0-for-3 but made a sublime shoestring catch in right field. Soto replaced him in right and drove in two runs, with a double and bases-loaded walk.

View Full Game Coverage

Afterward, Robles was asked how often he and Soto daydream about playing alongside one another at Nationals Park -- Robles in center, Soto in one of the corners.

Spring Training: Information | Tickets | Gear

"We've always talked about it," Robles said through interpreter Octavio Martinez. "We've always said, 'In three or four years, if we keep doing our thing, we'll be up there together, side by side.' We do talk about that a lot."

They may not have to wait that long, Robles is told.

He smiled.

"I hope so," he said, in perfect English.

Video: Top Prospects: Juan Soto, OF, Nationals

The anticipation surrounding Robles, 20, and Soto, 19, is a welcome counterbalance for the uncertainty among Nationals fans regarding Bryce Harper's potential free agency following this season. In one sense, Robles has arrived already: He played in 13 regular-season games for the Nationals last year and two more in the postseason.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Thus Robles became the youngest position player to appear in at least two games in a single postseason since Harper and Manny Machado in 2012.

How "nervous" was Robles during the National League Division Series?

"That's one of those words I don't use in my vocabulary too often," he replied. "I don't believe in that. I feel like it's one of those words that can backfire on you. I don't think too much about it. I just go out, try to perform and help my team win any way I can."

Clearly, he's confident. And Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said Robles is calmer than he was one year ago, too.

Video: Robles hoping to build on breakthrough 2017 campaign

"After being a [20-year-old] on the playoff roster, the game doesn't move as fast for him anymore," Rizzo said in a Monday telephone interview. "His skill set is immense. He's fairly refined for his age and his time in pro baseball. He seems like one of those guys who has a slow heartbeat that really takes his time and is not overwhelmed by the atmosphere."

Rizzo described Robles as "a special defender, a Gold Glove-type center fielder." Yet there's a good chance Robles will begin the regular season at Triple-A Syracuse. The Nationals believe outfielders Adam Eaton and Michael A. Taylor will recover from their injuries in time to make the Opening Day lineup, and the team doesn't want Robles to lose developmental time by playing part-time in the Majors.

"He'd have to be playing every day," Rizzo said. "He's going to play every day somewhere. If circumstances happen -- through injuries or that type of thing -- where he could play every day, we wouldn't feel bad about bringing him to the big leagues. But he's going to play somewhere, whether that's the big leagues or Triple-A."

Asked if he understands the value in returning to the Minors, Robles said, "I see it as a move the team has to make. That's their decision. I don't control any of that or have a say in it. All I can control is how I perform: Keep playing hard, keep playing well and prove to them I belong up here."

Video: WSH@DET: Soto clubs an RBI double to left-center

Rizzo said Soto could handle the Class A Advanced level to begin the season, but he will "probably" start at Class A Hagerstown because of an injury-shortened 2017 season. Soto was much more polished than a typical 19-year-old in Monday's two plate appearances. Nationals manager Dave Martinez said he was more impressed by Soto's run-producing walk in the ninth inning than his double the inning before.

Video: WSH@DET: Soto draws a bases-loaded walk in the 9th

"I really was," Martinez said. "That's a big moment. He was laying off tough pitches. That's pretty impressive."

Relearning the rules
Dave Martinez took away one positive from starter Edwin Jackson's turbulent third inning on Monday: He was able to see how Jackson and catcher Pedro Severino negotiated a high-stress inning without relying on multiple mound visits, in accordance with new MLB rules.

Video: Hot Stove on mound visits regarding pace of play

"We've talked about that -- when to go, when not to go," Martinez said. "It's going to change the game. You actually get to learn more about pitchers this way. You watch them work out of jams on their own."

Murphy on track
Rizzo said he's "cautiously optimistic" that second baseman Daniel Murphy will be in the Nationals' Opening Day lineup. Murphy, 32, took on-field batting practice on Monday at Ballpark of the Palm Beaches for a second consecutive day. Murphy has yet to play a game this spring after undergoing right knee microfracture surgery in October.

Up next
Harper, Trea Turner and Anthony Rendon are among the Nationals regulars expected to be in the lineup for Tuesday's 7:05 p.m. ET meeting with a split Mets squad at FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. Ace Max Scherzer will face Zack Wheeler in a game airing on MLB.TV as well as MASN locally and MLB Network nationally.

Jon Paul Morosi is a reporter for MLB.com.

Washington Nationals

Nats' top pick from '17 sent home for rules violation

Lefty Romero is ranked by MLB Pipeline as club's No. 5 prospect