Mid-Season Dirty Thirty-Five: Prospect #11

Since this is the mid-season write-up, it's just a quick overview of the player. When we get to the preseason re ranking in the offseason, they'll be a lot more involved.


Stats are current as of 8/4/2019.


All write-ups were published during all-star week.



Prospect #11: RHP Griffin Roberts


Palm Beach Cardinals

Drafted 43rd Overall in the 2018 draft

Age 23




Griffin Roberts was suspended for the first 50 games of the season for testing positive for, what he called, "cannabis".

If only the minor leaguers were treated the same way as the major leaguers. If only they had proper representation....

Anyway, Roberts broke the rules that he agreed to and he was punished for it. That's the lesson to be learned here.

Since coming off of the suspension, it's been a mixed bag for Roberts. There are times when he appears to be that dominant slider-thrower that we know he's capable of being. Those moments rarely come early in a start, though. Eleven of the twenty-seven runs that he's allowed have come in the first inning (as of 7-7-2019). He throws a lot of pitches in that first inning, too. He's not just throwing pitches right down the middle; he's also throwing a lot of pitches for balls. I can't speak to if this is a preparedness issue or something else, but I do know that it's strange to see a former college reliever-turned-starter struggle so badly to begin a game.


The other interesting trend in his game-by-game stat-line, is that every-other start appears to be an acceptable (not great, but acceptable) start. When you compose the stat "game score", you start with base of 50. So, basically, anything over 50 is above average and everything below 50 is below average (this isn't exactly correct, but I think it's a good baseline for the point I'm going to make, in a very primitive and simple way). This is what his game log looks like (game score is "GSc"):

Thanks to Baseball Reference for the game log!

Basically, every other start has been a productive start. That's probably the best way to put it. Even though he's allowed at least one first inning run in everyone of his starts, he manages to rebound every other start. In the other starts, he falls a part. What do all of these poor starts have in common? WALKS. And in this case, walks help to highlight the command issue that has plagued him so far this season. I obviously still believe in Griffin Roberts. Otherwise, I wouldn't have him as the 12th best prospect in the organization. However, his command is worse than I thought it was (or realized it was), and it needs a lot of work.

Usually after that first inning, Roberts settles in. That is, until about the fourth inning. That's when he starts to get hit hard again. Because of the amount of pitches he's thrown at this point, and the amount of hitters he's faced, the fourth and fifth inning usually represents his third time seeing a lineup. Which brings us to our next point; Roberts change-up has not found the consistency that it's going to need to have for him to last late into starts. His slider is still vicious. Often times, it'll leave the opposing radio broadcast's play-by-play guy scrambling for the words to describe it. His fastball, once he settles in, is usually a pitch that's commented on as some level of above-average by the broadcast, as well.

Much like with Evan Kruczynski, our #26 prospect on the D35, Griffin Roberts is too good of a pitcher, and his stuff is too lively, to be struggling the way he is. Kruczynski has dealt with some command issues, but not like Roberts has. The Cardinals need Roberts to clean it up. I believe that he will. Hopefully it happens sooner rather than later.


UPDATE:

Roberts has been better in the first inning since this write-up, but he's being eaten alive by "that one rough inning". I've had people ask me if they should give up on Griffin Roberts. To that I say "No, dummy".

Thanks to Fangraph for the stats!


Thanks For Reading!!

Kyle Reis