Position: Right-handed Pitcher
Acquired: 2011 MLB Draft, 29th Round
Ranking History: #69 (2011)
Taken in the 29th round of the 2011 draft out of Coahoma Community College, Robertson debuted in the GCL with 24 relief appearances. In 26 1/3 innings, Robertson posted a 2.73 ERA with 22 strikeouts.
The Tigers moved him to the rotation with short-season Connecticut in 2012 and he posted a 4.69 ERA in 48 innings. He allowed only 42 hits and struck out33, but walked 20 hitters.
Robertson is an imposing physical presence on the mound, owning a broad shouldered, strong frame. Despite his physical appearance, Robertson lacks the projection to stick in a professional rotation. He has a tendency to get very amped up before his outings, showing little ability to pace himself throughout longer outings. His mentality and overpowering arsenal fit much better in relief.
As a starter, Robertson's fastball sat in the 91-94 mph range and touched 96 early in his outings. Though his peak velocity dipped from the 95-96 mph, touching 97 that he showed in 2011 as a reliever, his fastball still had plus life and was difficult for hitters to square. In short bursts, Robertson's fastball has the potential to consistently play in the plus-plus range, peaking as high as 98 mph.
Robertson also showed a slider in 2012, though it was less consistent as a starter. Varying the speed from 79-86 mph, the slider shows better when thrown harder. At times, Robertson shows an ability to get tight spin on the ball, resulting in sharp, darting break. Overall, the pitch is average at this time with some potential to become above-average to plus down the road.
The Tigers worked hard to improve Robertson's change-up throughout 2012, but the pitch is well below-average and he shows little feel for throwing it. In his long term role, as a reliever, Robertson won't need his change-up and the pitch will be scrapped.
Robertson's aggressive approach on the mound doesn't lend to commanding his pitches. He throws strikes with his slider, at times throwing too many strikes and needing to finish the pitch out of the zone. He will struggle finding the zone with his fastball at times, but improved and appeared more in control later in the 2012 season.
Robertson projects as a power-armed reliever long term. His lack of command and without a true bat-missing pitch, he will struggle to profile as a high-leverage guy, but he should fit nicely in the seventh inning.
Performance Level Team W-L ERA G GS SV SO BB IP BAA SS-A
Robertson underwent an unusual version of Tommy John surgery while in college. Instead of repairing/replacing a ruptured ligament, Robertson's ligament had become detached from the bone in his elbow. In the end, he has come back strong and there are few concerns going forward.
If the Tigers want to force Robertson to continue developing his slider and command, they may stick with him in the West Michigan rotation for the 2013 season, even while acknowledging that his future lies in the bullpen. He could move quickly if moved to a relief role right now and some scouts I spoke with wouldn't be surprised if he raced through the lower levels working in short stints.
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