Prospect Profile: Connor Robertson, RHP

Connor Robertson looked like a guy with the makings of a sleeper pick when the Oakland A's drafted him in the 31st round of the 2004 draft. A corner infielder with some pitching experience at Birmingham-Southern, Robertson was the all-time leader in homeruns for the Panthers with 60. One and a half years later, Robertson has been opening up a lot of eyes, but it isn't for his bat. The strong right-hander was converted to pitching full-time and he showed a lot of promise in 2005.

Connor Robertson, RHP, 6'3'', 215

Year

Team

Lg

Age

W/L

ERA

IP

H

R

ER

BB

K

HR

H/9

BB/9

K/9

2004

AZ

RK

22

2-2

0.92

29.1

17

8

3

8

46

2

5.2

2.45

14.1

2004

VAN

NW

22

0-0

4.50

4

4

2

2

1

3

1

9.0

2.25

6.75

2005

KANCTY

MID

23

2-2

2.93

27.2

23

10

9

14

47

0

7.48

4.55

15.29

2005

STCKN

CAL

23

5-2

2.76

42.1

37

17

13

23

68

1

7.87

4.89

14.46

2005

SAC

PCL

23

0-0

1.80

5.0

2

1

1

3

5

0

3.6

5.4

9.00


Overall Scouting Report

Robertson is a big, athletic pitcher with a strong build. He is a sinker, slider pitcher with a high-80s/low-90s fastball that features good late break down in the strike zone. Despite only pitching one season in college, Robertson has a smooth pitching delivery with very few injury risks. He throws from a three-fourths arm angle and hides the ball well, especially from right-handed hitters.

Robertson has done one thing consistently well during his professional career – strike guys out. In 108.1 minor league innings, Robertson has struck out an astounding 169 batters. He walks a few too many hitters (49 in his career), and he will need to cut down on the walks to move into a big league bullpen. Robertson played first base and third base in college (he was one of the best hitters in Birmingham-Southern's history) and he fields his position at pitcher like he was an infielder.

Inside the Numbers

Robertson, who turned 24 in September, got a bit of a late start in professional baseball, as he wasn't drafted until he was already 22 years old. However, his arm is very young, considering that he wasn't a full-time pitcher in college, and he has moved up the A's chain quickly enough that age shouldn't be a factor for Robertson in his career. He began his A's career in Rookie Ball and proved he could dominate young professional hitters by striking out 46 in 29.1 innings. He had a cup of coffee at Vancouver to end the season and then began the 2005 campaign in low-A Kane County.

Robertson continued to demonstrate a tremendous ability to miss bats with the Cougars, as he struck out 47 in only 27.2 innings. Oddly enough, Robertson dominated opposing batters on the road while at Kane County -- throwing 17 shut-out innings away from home -- and he struggled at Elfstrom Stadium, as he allowed 13 hits and nine runs in 10.2 innings at home. Robertson displayed an ability to work out of trouble while with the Cougars, retiring 11 of 14 batters with runners on base. He got on a roll in May, striking out 30 in only 15.1 innings pitched. That performance led to his promotion to Stockton at the end of May, and he would spend much of the remainder of the season in the Ports' bullpen.

The athletic right-hander found similar success racking up the strikeouts for the Ports that he had at Kane County. Robertson whiffed 68 batters in 42.1 innings. He continued to struggle at times with his control, walking nearly five batters per nine innings pitched. Robertson's home/road splits were practically even in Stockton, unlike in Kane County. In addition, Robertson struggled to retire left-handed hitters while he was with the Ports. He had a 5.54 ERA against lefties and walked 11 against only 16 strike outs. Against righties, Robertson had a 1.53 ERA and a dominating 52:12 K:BB ratio.

Robertson's struggles against left-handed hitters bears watching; however, it was the first time in his professional career that Robertson had any noticeable struggles versus southpaws and the Ports' home ballpark is geared towards left-handed hitters. Robertson's groundball to flyball ratio is roughly 1:1, although he allowed more flyballs in the California League then he did in Kane County. One would like to see a sinker-slider pitcher induce more grounders, but Robertson does such a good job missing hitter's bats that it may not be much of an issue.

Outlook

Robertson will be 24 for much of the 2006 season. He may begin the year at AA-Midland, although he had a short stint with AAA-Sacramento in late August last year and held his own, so the A's may push him up to AAA to start the year. Even if he doesn't begin the year in Sacramento, Robertson figures to get at least some playing time with the River Cats in 2006.

Although he doesn't have overpowering stuff, Robertson is amongst an elite class of A's pitching prospects in terms of his ability to strike out batters, up there with Jairo Garcia and Dallas Braden. With the A's paying more and more heed to K:9 ratios, Robertson's strike out prowess will only help his stock rise in the eyes of the organization. If Robertson can cut down on the number of walks he issues, he could be a contributor in middle relief at the major league level as soon as 2007.


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