Since dangling Victor Robles in Chris Sale trade talks with the White Sox two offseasons ago, the Nationals have all but decreed him untouchable. In large part, that's because no other position prospect can touch his all-around package of tools.No. 6 among MLB Pipeline's recently released Top 100 Prospects, Robles
Since dangling Victor Robles in Chris Sale trade talks with the White Sox two offseasons ago, the Nationals have all but decreed him untouchable. In large part, that's because no other position prospect can touch his all-around package of tools.
No. 6 among MLB Pipeline's recently released Top 100 Prospects, Robles is the only position player on the list whom we gave at least 70 grades on the 20-80 scouting scale for three of his five tools. He's arguably the best defensive prospect at any position, a center fielder with outstanding range (70) and arm strength (70). Robles' nearly top-of-the-line speed (75) is his most impressive pure tool, though he's still learning as a basestealer.
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Robles has considerable offensive potential as well. He has a compact right-handed swing with quality bat speed and a mature approach, ingredients that have produced a .304 average in four years in the Minors and earn him a 60 hitting grade. That evaluation might prove to be conservative, as might the 55 we hung on Robles' burgeoning power.
Add up all five tools -- and yes, we acknowledge there's more to rating prospects than summing up their tools -- and Robles' total is 330. That's the highest total among position players on the Top 100, just as it was a year ago, when his sum was 305. Robles also came in second in 2016 at 300, trailing only Byron Buxton.
Right behind Robles with 315 totals are the two best prospects in baseball, Angels right-hander/outfielder Shohei Ohtani (No. 1) and Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. (No. 2). Most teams prefer Ohtani on the mound -- he was the runaway leader on our equivalent list for pitchers -- but he's pretty special as an outfielder as well, which is why the Halos will let him play both ways. Known as the Babe Ruth of Japan, he has the strongest arm (80) on the Top 100, and his power (70) and speed (65) are also near the top of the charts.
Acuna was the consensus Minor League Player of the Year after batting .325 with 21 homers and 44 steals while advancing to Triple-A at age 19, then encored by winning MVP honors in the Arizona Fall League. He's the only Top 100 Prospect with at least plus tools across the board: 60 hitting, 65 power, 70 speed, 60 arm strength and 60 fielding skills.
The majority of players with a broad base of tools play up the middle, usually at center field or shortstop. The most notable exception is Reds third baseman Nick Senzel (No. 7 on the Top 100), who joins Robles, Acuna and Rays outfielder Jesus Sanchez (No. 57) as the lone Top 100 Prospects with solid or better grades in all five categories. One of the best pure hitters (70) in the Minors, Senzel also made our All-Defense team, garnering 60s for his arm and glove, and ranks fourth with an overall total of 300.
Next on the list at 295 is Yankees outfielder Estevan Florial, the first player ranked outside the Top 10. He's very aggressive at the plate, and swing-and-miss concerns knocked down his batting grade (45) and overall ranking (No. 44). If Florial hits, he can be a superstar, because he has well above-average speed (70), raw power (that translates into 55 usable power for now) and arm strength (65) as well as fine center-field skills (60).
Four prospects had 290 totals: Blue Jays third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (No. 3), Yankees infielder Gleyber Torres (No. 5), Angels outfielder Jo Adell (No. 62) and Athletics shortstop/outfielder Jorge Mateo (No. 72). Scott Kingery (Phillies, No. 35) led all second basemen at 280, Francisco Mejia (Indians, No. 11) paced the catchers at 265, and Brendan McKay (Rays, No. 25) and Ryan McMahon (Rockies, No. 41) tied for top honors among first basemen at 255.
Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.