No. 35: Montreal Robertson, RHP
Montreal Robertson is a RHP, selected by the Tigers in the 29th round of the 2011 Draft from Coahoma Community College (Clarksdale, MS). He had Tommy John surgery while in college, so he slipped some down the draft boards in 2011, leading to the Tigers being able to snatch him up in the 29th Round. After signing, Robertson was assigned to the Rookie League GCL Tigers, where he worked exclusively as a late-innings reliever, compiling a 2.40 ERA across 30 innings, complete with 22 K's but also an elevated WHIP of 1.60. Many expected Robertson to move to West Michigan's bullpen in 2012, but in a somewhat surprising move, the Tigers sent him to Class A Short Season-Connecticut, where they began the transition of turning him into a starter. He had an OK year in 2012, posting a 4.69 ERA over 48 IP, but his WHIP and BB% both fell tremendously from their 2011 marks, leading me to believe that he had some bad luck.
Robertson is a big man, standing 6'4" and weighing in at around 225lbs. He certainly looks the part of a power right-handed arm. He throws 4 pitches, with a 4-seam fastball, a 2-seam fastball, slider, and changeup. Scouts have reported seeing Robertson touch as high as 97-98 with his 4 seamer, but he sits more in the 92-94 range with that pitch. His 2 seamer sits in the 90-92 range, and has really heavy sink, allowing him to generate ground balls with relative ease. His slider grades as below average now, as it lacks downward action and deception, working more as a set up pitch presently. His best offspeed pitch is his changeup, as he's able to throw it from the same arm slot and with the same arm speed as his fastball, maintaining excellent deception with the pitch. I've even seen a few scouts place future 60 grades on his changeup, although since I've not seen Robertson, I can't refute or confirm those claims. What's most intriguing to me is that Robertson fits the profile perfectly of a late-innings reliever. Big arm that can ramp a fastball up into the high-90's, and a potentially dynamic changeup. His 2 seam fastball and slider are nice pieces to have, but the slider doesn't sound to be like a pitch that will be applicable against major league hitters. I trust the Tigers here, but I still think that Robertson's best projection is as a reliever, rather than starter.
Robertson is 22 years old, but due to the Tommy John surgery, his arm isn't as old as he is, meaning that he hasn't thrown as many innings or pitches as most 22 year olds. He's spent his first two professional seasons in short-season ball, so I'd assume that, barring some kind of setback, he will head to full season ball somewhere in 2013. If the Tigers want to keep him as a starter, then I think West Michigan is where he will end up, but if they decide to covert him to a reliever, I think he has the potential to handle an aggressive assignment to High-A Lakeland. For me, he has the ultimate ceiling of a set up reliever, with a more realistic ceiling of a middle reliever/7th inning man. Obviously, time will tell, but I think we could see him by 2015 if he's converted back to a reliever.