RHP Montreal Robertson:
-Remember, I had Robertson at No. 35 on my Top 50 countdown, and several other Tigers sites had him in the same range. The strong outlier was Keith Law (surprise!) who had him at No. 10. Prior to Friday, I didn't give Robertson much of a chance to stick as a starter due to command issues, lack of a viable third pitch, and just overall better stuff as a reliever. However, Friday's start made me slow down a bit on that thought process.
-Robertson is still a big guy. Stands 6'4" and looks about 230-240, but isn't even the least bit "heavy" or "under-conditioned".
-He threw 5 innings of no hit ball, allowing only 1 baserunner on a walk, while throwing 67 pitches. He showed me much better command than I had expected to see, albeit without the "overpowering" stuff I'd expected to see.
-He sat 89-92 for the most part, touched 94-95, and once he got up to 55-60 pitches he was more in the 87-89 range. The 4 seamer doesn't have much movement on it, but he showed much better command of his fastball than I had expected to see.
-He also threw a 2 seamer in the 87-89 range that had some decent arm side run and minimal sink. It's not a pitch that would see as a future "bread and butter" pitch, but it had enough movement to miss the fat part of the bat. He got lots of weak contact on the pitch, but I don't believe I saw a swing and miss off of it.
-New to Robertson's repertoire this season was a cutter that he threw in the same velo range as his 2 seamer. I was really surprised to see it, and even had to turn to Jordan and say "was that a cutter? Nahhhh. That can't be a--bloody hell that's a cutter". It doesn't have a ton of movement, similar to his 2 seamer, but it shows enough horizontal movement to be a solid pitch for him moving forward. He actually commanded it pretty well, and I'm pretty sure most of his swinging strikes were on the cutter.
-I also saw a slider that I was less than enamored with; as it was short in the 82-84 range without much downward break, so it basically was a slower version of his cutter with slightly more vertical movement. If he can command it, it could be a decent show-me pitch for the sake of giving hitters a different look, but I don't see much beyond fringy projection here.
-I was interested to see the changeup, as I had seen future plus grades on the pitch. But he rarely threw it, which was fine for Friday's particular start, but I would have liked to see it. The couple he threw were in the 82-83 range, and were solid pitches. Showed good arm speed and threw it from the same arm slot as his FB, and got nice fade on the pitch. I can see where people get future plus grades, but I'm not going to throw that grade on a pitch I saw 3 times.
-Overall, I was impressed. Robertson showed a willingness to take a little bit off of his pitches for the sake of command, which is something you don't really see at A-ball. I'd like to see him a few more times before I go saying that he can be a starter long term, but the addition of the cutter was definitely a positive and his command seems to have improved.
CF Austin Schotts:
-Schotts, despite not great overall results, continues to impress me in the box. He faced Ismael Guillon on Friday, who has a legitimate plus (or better) changeup, and Schotts was not fooled. His stance (wider than most) allows him to wait back a bit longer to recognize pitches, but it's at the risk of losing power. However, for someone like Schotts who profiles as a leadoff hitter with 70 speed does not need to worry about killing the baseball. I'm fine with him worrying more about contact than power, which is what it looks like he's doing.
-Swing is a little long. No noticeable hitches, but still a bit longer than I'd like to see.
-Took a walk and stole 2B in the 1st inning, off of the lefty Guillon. Had him 3.05 down to 2B, which is really damned fast. Later in the game he walked again and got picked off trying to steal, but was still 3.15 to 2B.
-Didn't expand the zone in the AB's I saw, but struggled with recognition of breaking balls.
C Bennett Pickar
-Major league projection (minimal) rests solely on his defense. Popped 1.85 to 2B on a warmup throw (pretty damned good), did not get a time on him in game.
-Really nice footwork behind the plate, smooth receiver, zero issues whatsoever blocking balls.
-Got on the side of the ball on one throw to 2B, resulted in ball tailing into runner
-Long swing. Really long swing, but still had 2 hits because pitchers threw him soft stuff away, which he was able to barrel pretty well
RHP Slade Smith:
-3 innings of solid relief. Got a ton of weak contact. Throws from low 3/4 arm slot, really fringy FB at 85-88 but with plus sink and run. Really hard for hitters to square up.
-Randomly threw a couple curves in the 75-76 range. Good depth with 11-5 movement. Not a plus pitch, but the hitters were obviously off balance when the CB were thrown.
-Looks more like an org guy, but he could breeze through the minors with a low K total, low BB total, and really high GO/AO ratio.
RHP Jose Valdez
-Closed for GCL in 2012, closed for WMI on Friday.
-Sat 93-94, but it came in straight.
-Max effort delivery, over the top, good plane to the plate and good arm speed
-Fringy slider that he was struggling with
-Shoddy command on everything. Cold didn't help, but still
Ok. That's it for Friday's notes. Notes from Saturday's game will come on Tuesday.
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