Washington OF Victor Robles is a priority target for me this off-season because I still think he’ll someday become the .280, 20 HR, 30 SB type he appeared to be before totally forgetting how to hit. The price is definitely Bob right now. I won’t go bidding into the wind of that dreamscape on the trade market if he’s rostered by a devout Robles believer, but chances are, the Robles-heavy investor is more than ready to diversify the portfolio.
So why should we buy?
Just hope and hype of winters past?
Well, partly that, I guess, but I’ve long suspected this reset was what Robles needed for a long time: a chance to breathe and relearn the things he’s forgotten. Washington has needed him so badly these past few years they’ve just kept playing him no matter how bad it got, often moving him around in the lineup like that somehow matters to a baseline hit tool. It does not. Robles in the leadoff spot is Robles in the five hole is Robles at the very bottom of the lineup. I’m sure they were working with him in the interim, but what he’s needed for two years now is a full reset. He probably didn’t love the idea that he’d have to hit his way back to the majors, but that’s life. He’d been handed an everyday job without earning it for a long time, perhaps he accepted the demotion (all the way to AA at first) in good grace like some kind of karmic blast from the baseball gods.
The returns so far are excellent. Over the past week at AAA, Robles is slashing .370/.414/.852 with 3 HR and 1 SB. Who the heck is this guy?
One thing to remember about Robles: he didn’t play much in the upper minors: 37 games at AA in 2017 and 40 games at AAA in 2018. It’s not the rarest path on the planet, but his numbers at AAA didn’t exactly scream “promote me!” He slashed .278/.356/.386 with 2 HR and 14 SB in 20 attempts before getting called up to be the everyday centerfielder for a World Series contender as a 21-year-old. Any concerns that he wasn’t ready for the task got wiped away by his .288/.348/.525 line with 3 HR and 3 SB across 21 games.
In 2019, he hit 17 HR and stole 28 bases in 37 attempts, slashing .255/.326/.419 in a loud rookie campaign. The shoulder injury that zapped his early 2019 was well in the rear view by now, as was his abbreviated stay in the minor leagues.
Now just 24 with a World Series ring on his finger, Robles is as unique a post-hype hopeful as I can remember. The number of 22-year-olds who brush up against 20/30 in their rookie season is vanishingly small. The idea that we could pick up this kind of talent for free when he’s still just 24 is too enticing for me to ignore. He’s not Byron Buxton in player type—fewer strikeouts, less power, less physicality, better health history—but the value proposition is similar.
Chicago (AL) OF 1B Gavin Sheets has a warm bed waiting for him in Chicago now that Andrew Vaughn is on the IL. He’s gotten hot before and seems steamy now, coming off a three-hit night. He’s on my “pending transactions” list in the 15-teamer where I’m two points up and eager for the finish line.
Boston LHP Jay Groome is looking clean in AA, having tossed 11 shutout innings in his first two turns at the level. Might be a sharp addition now if you can swing it, partly because I think you could trade him at some point when the redraft crew realizes he’s in the rotation picture for 2022.
Chicago (NL) OF Brennen Davis hit two home runs in his first AAA game Tuesday. Was pointed out to me in the comments section of my Top 100 Prospects for 2021 Fantasy Baseball: Final Update that MLB.com ranked Marcelo Mayer ahead of Davis, and let me just say I wonder how many MLB clubs see it that way, even for real baseball, let alone fantasy where I don’t think it’s close.
Toronto 3B Breyvic Valera was the big prize in the Razz 30 dynasty divisional round playoff faab run. $8 of a $200 budget. Get it, Brey.
If you’re in a crazy-ass fun league like the Razz 30, Valera could be good for some up-and-down (minors eligible in some settings) batting average and counting stats on that T-1000 of an offense they’ve got up the great north.
New York (AL) OF Everson Pereira jumped more than anyone on my top 100 because the Yankees keep pushing him, and Pereira keeps producing. Because it’s been such a swift rise, he might be available in your league either via free agency now or trade early in the off-season. People have gone broke betting on Yankees prospects before, but Pereira should be cheap despite his .696 slugging percentage across 41 games as a 20-year-old. .667 in Low A then .693 across 22 games in High-A. He has 12 home runs in those 22 games. I don’t even know what to say other than wow.
Oh, he’s also 5 for 6 stealing bases in 22 High-A games. Good for something like an 84 HR 35 SB pace at a level where he’s roughly three years younger than the average player. Fun in fun sample sizes, but minor league months don’t get much louder than this.
Thanks for reading.
I’m @theprospectitch on Twitter.