Scouting Rangers Prospect #27: Mason Tobin

In a roundabout way, the Texas Rangers acquired hard-throwing reliever Mason Tobin in the Major League portion of December's Rule 5 Draft. Lone Star Dugout takes a look at the 23-year-old prospect with an in-depth scouting report.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Mason Tobin
Position: Relief Pitcher
DOB: July 8, 1987
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 220
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Acquired: 2010 Major League Rule 5 Draft

The Texas Rangers landed hard-throwing reliever Mason Tobin earlier this offseason, getting him from the Cubs in exchange for cash considerations.

Tobin, initially a product of the Angels, was selected by Chicago with the eighth pick of the Rule 5 Draft on December 9. He was then immediately dealt to the Rangers.

As a Major League Rule 5 selection, Tobin must remain on Texas' 25-man roster for the entire 2011 season, or he will be offered back to the Angels for $25,000. The Rangers can work out a trade with the Angels to retain Tobin's rights if he fails to make the big league roster. The club did the same with Rule 5 pick Ben Snyder in 2010, keeping the left-hander by sending pitching prospect Edwin Escobar to the Giants.

Tobin's injury history––and thus, lack of experience––likely make him a long shot to earn a spot on the Rangers' roster out of Spring Training. But he is an intriguing prospect with a powerful arm.

The 6-foot-4, 220-pound hurler has logged only 40 innings over the last three seasons, and he last pitched in 2009. Tobin made eight starts with Single-A Cedar Rapids in '08, posting a 3.13 ERA while walking 18 and striking out 18 in 37.1 innings. He made his final appearance in early-June before sitting out with a strained shoulder.

The Angels elected to move their hard-throwing prospect into a closing role with High-A Rancho Cucamonga the following season, but he was once again shut down––this time after only three appearances––and eventually underwent Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.

As he enters the 2011 season, Tobin hasn't appeared in an official game since April 15, 2009. After missing nearly the entire '09 campaign, he sat out in 2010 while rehabbing and undergoing another cleanup procedure on his right elbow. He is expected to be fully healthy and ready to pitch in Spring Training this year.

Tobin made his presence known prior to the '09 season, when he appeared in big league exhibition games on consecutive days. Working against the Dodgers and Padres, the former 16th-round pick tossed 1.1 scoreless innings, giving up one hit, walking none, and striking out two.

In the first outing, Tobin pitched a shutout frame and threw all of his fastballs between 95 and 97 mph. He faced one batter the next night––in the video shown below––and fanned Chase Headley on an 85 mph slider.

Also See: Rangers active in Rule 5 Draft (December 10, 2010)
Top Prospects, Top Tools (January 14, 2011)

Prospect Video:

Credit YouTube user FanLAAngels for the video clip.

Repertoire: Fastball, Slider, Changeup.

Fastball: Working from a low three-quarters arm slot, Tobin features a true power sinker with late dive and armside run. He often sat in the low-to-mid 90s as a starting pitcher prior to surgery, but he has also shown the ability to work around 94-97 mph during shorter relief outings. Because Tobin still has very little experience coming out of the bullpen, it'll be interesting to track his velocity this season––particularly coming off the injuries. If he's able to command the fastball down in the zone, he should miss some bats and generate plenty of ground balls.

Other Pitches: When Tobin gets on top of his slider, it's a legitimate plus pitch that complements his fastball well. The slider can touch the mid-80s with lots of late break and tilt. When he fails to get on top of the pitch, it works more in the upper-70s and gets slurvy, making it less sharp and more recognizable out of the hand. Tobin's changeup is little more than a show-me pitch, though that shouldn't be much of an issue out of the bullpen.

Projection: The biggest knock against Tobin is his injury history and, consequently, lack of experience. He has logged just 96 total innings through parts of four professional seasons. But when healthy, the right-hander has flashed two plus pitches in a power sinker-slider mix. While the stuff gives him late-inning potential, the ultimate decider will be whether he's able to throw strikes and command the ball down in the zone. And although Tobin has been sidelined for much of his career, his stuff is mature and nearly big league-ready.

2011 Outlook: With only 2.2 innings pitched over the last two seasons, Tobin figures to be an extreme long shot to crack the Rangers' opening-day roster. But the organization knew this when they acquired him via the Rule 5 Draft. Assuming he doesn't make the big league club and his arm is healthy, the Rangers will likely attempt to work out a trade with the Angels in order to retain his rights and option him to the minor leagues.

If the Rangers ultimately retain and option Tobin, he might be headed for the back end of the Double-A Frisco bullpen. The stuff shouldn't be much of an issue for the hurler, and he could be in the majors by season's end if he's able to command his fastball and slider with any consistency.

ETA: 2012.

Year Team W-L IP H BB SO ERA
2007 AZL Angels (RK) 2-0 28.1 17 7 32 0.95
Orem (RK) 2-1 28.0 23 7 23 3.21
2008 Cedar Rapids (A) 2-3 37.1 29 18 18 3.13
2009 Rancho Cucamonga (A+) 0-0 2.2 2 2 2 0.00
2010 DNP – Injury --- --- --- --- --- ---

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