There were plenty of new faces in the Nationals clubhouse before Tuesday’s game with the St. Louis Cardinals.
But how much some of the younger players get to see game action in the closing weeks of the season remains to be seen.
Among those called up from Triple-A Syracuse, which finished its season Monday, were outfielder Victor Robles, 21, and pitchers Austin Voth, 26, and Kyle McGowin, 26. They join catcher Pedro Severino and pitcher Austen Williams, called up from Syracuse on Saturday.
Robles made his big league debut in 13 games for the Nationals last year and entered this season as the No. 1 prospect in the system.
But he hyperextended his left elbow April 9 and did not return to the Syracuse lineup until July. Now he is back with the Nationals, though he was not in the starting lineup Tuesday.
“Victor is an unbelievable athlete,” said manager Dave Martinez. “I truly believe he can help us win games. I want to watch him play.”
The Nationals (69-69) entered Tuesday 7½ games back of first-place Atlanta in the National League East and seven games back of the second wild-card spot. Washington won the past two division titles but is 11 games under .500 since late May prior to Tuesday’s action.
“If I can take anything away from the injury it is to stay positive,” Robles said, via translator Octavio Martinez. “I feel like after the injury … I stayed with my game plan. I (still) made diving catches. It was the worst injury I have had so far in my career. I feel a lot stronger now.”
Fellow outfielder and Dominican native Juan Soto, 19, the No. 2 prospect in the system before the year, was called up to the Nationals on May 20 after starting the season at low Single-A Hagerstown. Perhaps soon Robles and Soto will start in the same outfield.
Soto was hitting .302 with 16 homers in games through Monday for the Nationals and is a leading candidate for rookie of the year in the National League. Robles, 21, hit .276 with 10 doubles and two homers with 19 steals in 52 games this season for Syracuse.
“It is great to share the same field with him,” Robles said. “I’m very proud of him. He has done a great job. Now that we are here it is a little bit of a dream come true.”
Right-hander McGowin started Monday at Syracuse in the last game of the season there and the last game for the Chiefs in a 10-year run as the Nationals’ top minor league affiliate.
The New York native started the season at high Single-A Potomac after he had some health issues in spring training. The right-hander was promoted to Double-A Harrisburg and then to Syracuse, where he was 3-2 with 1.20 ERA in eight starts.
He allowed just 26 hits in 52 2/3 innings at Syracuse and had a WHIP of 0.66. McGowin came to the Nationals in a trade with the Angels prior to the 2017 season. Martinez said for now he will be in the bullpen.
Mark Scialabba, the director of player development for the Nationals, has been impressed with McGowin.
“We are very excited about Kyle’s progress this year,” Scialabba said. “He’s improved in all areas and has certainly earned this opportunity… he is more consistent and deceptive with his crossfire delivery, is locating his sinking fastball well to both sides of the plate, his breaking ball has swing and miss potential and his changeup has become a weapon verse both left handed and right-handed hitters.”
Also on Tuesday, pitchers Erick Fedde and Joe Ross, who both have big league experience and are 25, came off the disabled list. Fedde started Tuesday against the Cardinals while Martinez said Ross will start at home Friday against the Chicago Cubs.
Also called up from Syracuse was infielder Adrian Sanchez, 28, who has seen limited playing time with the Nationals the past two seasons.