Mariners Top 20 Prospects: Number 11

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After seeing one young Mariners’ pitcher find success once more in his third major league start last night, here’s another who’s hoping to follow in his footsteps in the future:

11. Mauricio Robles
Position: LHP |  Hits: L Throws: L
DOB:  3/5/1989  |  HT: 5’10″ WT: 210 LB
Notes: Robles is a bit of a conundrum.  A small pitcher (the 5’10” listing is a little on the generous side), he still gets good velocity and command out of his frame.  That is, until he hits a certain point in his pitchcount…. and then it all just vanishes.

Robles has three primary pitches: a four-seam fastball that sits in the low-to-mid 90’s that can touch as high as 97, a biting slider that’s got more of a hard, late break than large break , and a good change that’s made more than a few batters look silly.  At the start of games, all three pitches are very effective.  Robles hits his spots all over the zone with the fastball, sits just off the gloveside edge of the plate with his slider, and misses bats with the change.

Sounds good, right?  In fact, it is good… until Robles gets to a magic point in his games, often somewhere between 50-65 pitches, and his command utterly disappears, his velocity on his fastball and slider drop anywhere from 3-5 MPH, and he starts overthrowing everything trying to make up for it.  With that come walks, meaty fastballs up in the zone, and your general-issue Bad Times.

The interesting thing is that his changeup, which should wind up as an above-average pitch, stays effective even once Robles has lost it.  The problem is, he starts relying heavily on his fastball and slider, dropping his changeup use to almost nothing.

If Robles can get past this durability issue, he could be a good pitcher, and easily has mid-rotation potential.  If he can’t, he’s slated for the bullpen, and his stuff probably won’t play up as well there as other similar pitchers would because his delivery is already a max-effort one.

That problem, and the cloudiness it gives Robles’ future projection, is why I have him lower down the list than many other prospect analysts; in fact, he was almost universally seen as the number six prospect in the organization by the major information outlets.  I’m not saying I know something more than I do; I just see it differently.

2011 Outlook: Currently rehabbing an injury and on 60-day DL; will go to Tacoma once healthy, and spend most of the season working on durability and sustaining command.

Major League ETA: Late 2011/early 2012

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2 responses to “Mariners Top 20 Prospects: Number 11

  1. Robles is far too Sid Fernandez for me as a starter but I like him as a future reliever.

    I wish he would tighten up his control & slider. His minor-league splits page is a bit messed up (in that his walk totals are off) but it still shows that lefties haven’t had too tough a time against him. Robles really needs to work on his slider. The changeup is nice in that he can pitch effectively against right-handed hitters but he needs a second pitch against lefties. The fastball velocity would still be above-average coming out of the pen even without playing up much, if at all, in that role. Of course better fastball location would help too.

    He’s still young (especially for AAA), I like that he’s starting still because he needs the work. He needs all three pitches & to repeat his delivery.

    I’m with you on where he’s ranked. If he’s not a starter he’s valuable but not top ten prospect valuable.

  2. Pingback: Mariners Top 20 Prospects: Number Ten | Mariners Farm Review

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