The Twins will officially promote LHP Tyler Robertson from AAA today, completing a bit of a comeback of sorts. Robertson was drafted in the third round of the 2006 draft out of high school in California, and almost immediately inspired mixed feelings from prospect writers. His zenith as a prospect was in 2008 when John Sickels gave him a B+ grade and rated him as the best Twins prospect. Many other people (including myself) disagreed, and while they all ended up being correct, for awhile there it looked like everyone had overestimated him. Robertson struck out just 6.5 batters per 9 innings and had a 1.326 ERA in Fort Meyers in 2010, while repeating the level no less. In 2010 it got even worse, as he gave up over 11 hits per 9 innings and had a 1.64 WHIP between A+ and AA.
Converted to a reliever, Robertson started finding his niche in 2011, striking out almost a batter per inning and lowering his WHIP to just 1.29. He also lowered his walks to under 3 per 9 for the first time since he was in Beloit. Now in AAA, Robertson has a 1.36 WHIP and is striking out more than 10 batters per 9 innings for Rochester. He is walking more than 4 per 9 though, which is some cause for concern going forward (however he’s only thrown 28 innings this year so take all stats with a grain of salt).
Stuff wise, if not for his weird delivery Robertson probably would be a starter. He has a really good curve and potentially plus change but can barely get his fastball up to 90 MPH. He looks incredibly stiff and unathletic when pitching, which you’ll see in the video below (though note that said video is from his FSL days. He has gotten a bit better in that regard) and he also has a hitch in his delivery. That’s not to say he won’t be an effective pitcher in the majors, but that he is more suited for a relief role. Lefties are hitting just .167 off him this year (with just a .262 OBP) and he has 19 strikeouts in 15.1 IP against them. AAA righties are hitting .288/.348/.475 off him, so the Twins would be wise to limit his usage against righties.
Whether Robertson will be a success story partially depends on how you used to view him. If you had him pegged as a #2 starter and the best prospect in the Twins system a few years ago, him being a LOOGY is disappointing. But when you consider he’ll be just the 11th player from the 3rd round of the 2006 draft to make the majors period, and only 5th pitcher, Robertson serving as a cheap and hopefully effective LOOGY for awhile is a success.