Updated: Dec 16, 2018
Prospect #7: RHP, Griffin Roberts
Drafted in the 1st round of the 2018 draft
THE QUICK WRITE UP
"Griffin Roberts" sounds like the name of the lead character of a bounty hunter in a sci-fi movie. Roberts goes a spot above Gorman simply because he's older and I always go with the college draftee with an advanced secondary offering over any high school draftee. Again, if we are doing this list like the national pundits would, both Gorman and Roberts would be in the top six. I wanna see a little bit more than an inning or so out of Roberts before I'm ready to move him up the list. It took me 32 years to do it, but I'm trying to be responsible for the first time in my life. So, what makes Roberts such a highly-touted draft pick? That slider, bro! For reals, it's one of the best that I've ever seen from a draft pick. When the Cardinals drafted Dakota Hudson in 2016 we were told that Hudson cutter/slider was one of the best in that draft and that it might be one of the best pitches in the organization upon it's entrance into the organization. Well, Hudson's cutter and his slider have nothing on Roberts' slider when it's on.
I'm not done gushing about that pitch. For my money, Adam Ottavino has the best slider in baseball. Well, I believe that Roberts' slider is just one kick below that pitch when Roberts' is pitching out of the bullpen. Remember that with Roberts, this past season was his first in the Wake Forrest rotation. He had previously been their closer. As you might suspect, his stuff played a lot more violently/hatefully/mean-like towards hitters out of the pen. That's not to deminish the fastball that he throws. It's sneaky-good and it stays on the same plane, thus tunneling extremely well, with the slider. His other offerings need a bit of work, but I definitely believe that the Cardinals' instructors are going to help him max out those pitches. At the very worst, Roberts will make it to the major leagues as a reliever so long as he stays healthy. I, however, believe that he has Michael Wacha-like production on his horizon. Every time I watch that slider I can't help but think "this kid might be the early-rounds steal of the draft."
*UPDATED ON 8/23/2018*
It's been slow going for the college phenom since the draft. The Cardinals have been extremely cautious with him and he's struggled when he's been called upon. After such a heavy workload at Wake Forrest, Mr. Roberts is just knocking some of the rust off. I'm anxious to see what the Cardinals plans are with him moving forward. What I know for sure is, don't look at that stat line and assuming anything. It's misleading. He'll be ready to go out and impress come 2019.
THIS ONE IS GOING TO BE DIFFERENT
Since we don't have a minor league sample worth dissecting from Mr. Roberts, I'm just going to give a few additional thoughts along with the quick write up.
It's unusual for me to be so bullish on a player that hasn't pitched in the minors yet, but when I watch Roberts during his time at Wake Forrest I see something special. I'm not sure if he'll be a reliever long term or a starter long term, but I know that his stuff is advanced and I can't believe that he fell to 43rd overall. There were at least three pitchers taken before him in the draft that aren't at his floor and don't have his ceiling. But, hey, that's the major league draft.
I do not know why he hasn't pitched yet. Usually, a collegiate pitcher with a heavy work load, like Roberts had before the draft, enters the organization and is pitching out of a low-level bullpen around the end of July. It seems like the Cardinals are being extra cautious with Roberts. I'm fine with that. No reason to rush if you do not have to. His pitching mechanics get a little wonky/sloppy sometimes and I'm guessing he's getting extra work to clean that up as much as possible before getting into game action. Total guess, though.
Only time will tell with Roberts, but I wanted to note that for me to put a player that hasn't pitched in the minors yet in the top 10 should be taken note of. I can't help but think that his eventual ceiling is somewhere between Luke Weaver's and Jack Flaherty's.
Thanks to Fangraphs for the Roberts' Stats.
Thanks For Reading!!