Tigers Scouting Report #46: James Robbins

A familiar name to Tigers prospect followers, James Robbins has hung around the back end of the top 50 for years now due to his massive power. Is he making strides elsewhere in his game to bring his future potential to fruition?

James Robbins


Position: First Baseman
Date of Birth: 9/26/1990 (2014 Opening Day Age: 23)
Height/Weight: 6-0/225
Bats/Throws: Left/Left
Acquired: 2009 Draft, 30th Round
Ranking History: #20 (2010), #60 (2011), #49 (2012), #33 (2013), #46 (2014)

Background: Fell to the 30th round of the 2009 draft due to a strong commitment to Washington State University where he was slated to play both ways as a first baseman and left-handed pitcher. The Tigers signed him for $235,000 and he hit .361 in a nine-game sample in the Gulf Coast League that summer. Posted a .251/.293/.351 line as a 19-year old in the NYPL in 2010 and then followed that up with a .251/.283/.406 line in the Midwest League the following year. Robbins slumped to a .237 average in 2012 but blasted 29 doubles and 11 home runs in 124 games for Lakeland. His numbers continued to fall in 2013 as he hit just .224 with 26 doubles and seven home run in his first exposure to Double-A pitching.


2013 James Robbins Stats - Hitting
Erie 468441052607431617133.224.261.325

Scouting Report

Body: On the shorter side for 1B; stocky, thick frame; lacked conditioning early in career; has improved body over last two years; not as soft; natural strength but not chiseled; still thick and unathletic; no physical projection.

Hit: Stands on top of the plate; hands start in at shoulder level; limited trigger with no stride and minimal hand movement; plus bat speed; lacks pitch recognition; limited barrel control; aggressive swinger that chases out of the zone consistently; goes after too many breaking balls; will chase velo up; has bat speed to handle plus velo but lacks barrel control to do anything with it; very susceptible to spin and soft; no feel to hit; enormous swing-and-miss issues; no hit projection to speak of. Grade – Present 2/Future 3

Power: Big raw; possible 7 pure raw power; plus bat speed; ball jumps off the barrel when he can make contact; raw power plays down multiple grades because of poor hit tool; power to pull side is more impressive than opposite field; can still drive the other way; needs to refine hit tool for raw power to play at a level where it can help the profile. Grade – 4/5

Speed: Has slowed since signing; speed has not improved with improved conditioning; bottom of the scale runner; passable base running instincts; speed is not a factor in his game. Grade – 2/2

Defense: Significant improvement in last two years; footwork is solid around the bag; understands when to attack balls to glove side and when to allow 2B to handle; hands are below-average; decent job picking low throws; lacks extended stretch because of height; doesn't always look clean/smooth but typically gets the job done; fringy defender overall. Grade – 4/4+

Arm: Very strong arm; hidden at position; reached 89-90 mph as high school pitcher; has maintained arm strength as a pro; arm can be weapon on cutoff throws to home; shows good accuracy; has improved ability to make throws to second base on DP; easy plus arm. Grade – 6/6

Other: Good kid; works hard; enjoys the game; comes to the park every day ready to play; wants to improve; doesn't let failure linger; compartmentalizes problems well (i.e., doesn't take bad at-bats into the field).

Final Word

Summary: Raw power carries the profile; no feel to hit; will always carry significant swing-and-miss in offensive game; modest improvement of hit tool could see considerable jump in playable power; 7 raw that plays down because of poor hit tool; bottom scale runner; defense has improved to fringe level; plus arm; quality makeup; still young and has chance for raw to play to greater extent.

Risk: High risk player despite Double-A experience; tons of swing-and-miss; hit tool likely to prevent Major League future.

Projection: Organizational player; very limited Major League future; unexpected multiple grade jump in hit tool would dramatically change profile.

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