Mauricio Robles

We axed G why he thought Robles' LD% was a mere 10% last year ... he jumped out of his shoes at the tater pitch :- )


No, last year it was 6.5% in High Desert (which is how he defeated the park) - it's 10 for his CAREER. :)  Nobody smokes a hit on Robles.  His HR/F is under 5%, and his IF/F is 21% (!).
Guys hit infield popups, cans-of-corn to the OF and weak tappers to short against him, but they can't drive the ball.
Robles is a lefty in the low-90s, which is like a righty in the mid-90s, and his curve makes announcers fall out of their seats and batters fall out of the box.  And he is in no way a finished product.
He'll be 21 in AA this year, having owned High Desert and the Cal League as well as any pitcher can.
His parks from here out only get more friendly for his pitching style.  


The plus LH fastball and a signature power curve, the hitters fighting a rearguard action due to the deception... sounds like Robles is a convincing AA year away from slotting into the minor-league-Jon-Lester mold.   Where is the G vs J run-thru-the-park bet as to whether Robles will mince AA ball?  :- )

Here's what Lester did at 20 ... 10K's, a fair amount of walks, and a nonexistent HR rate in high-A.  In the context of his 2-pitch arsenal, that's a description of a young ace trying to find his release point, and look out when he does.

Robles at 20 did essentially the same thing, albeit (1) with a few more BB's and (2) at the notorious High Desert pinball arena.

If that's what Robles is, a LH power guy whose curve can't be read until it's too late, I'm partial to that kind of twirler as well.  The young Zito, Lester, Bedard are all in that pattern.  We remember Scott McGregor starring with this combo at 85 mph, much less at 95 mph :- )

Dunno how much Robles throws his change, but with the description that Gordon provides, I hope the answer is "not much."  Those two LH pitches are more than enough, and they provide him the chance to get ahold of his own game quickly.

I love guys with two plus pitches who whipsaw the hitters between the two of them.  The pitchers willing to do this, their two pitches just get better and better and better, as has been the case with Bedard's hook, for example.


As to the 4-to-make-1 draw at a third for a Big Three:

Pineda, Robles, Hill and Cortes give us 4 really good shots at making hay at that #3 pitching slot, pushing #2 over the next couple of years.  None of them are gonna top Felix obviously, but we've still got some guys over the next couple of years who could be interesting arms to add to the big club with lots of potential.  We have a lack of depth behind them because we traded Lorin/Pribanic/Aumont/Adcock/etc, but we'll get another restock in the draft, plus guys like Cleto have barely pitched at all.  We'll see how we do patching that hole - letting Blandford start is a good thing, and the Ms have said they'll do that.
BTW, just to throw it out there:
Felix Hernandez has the 6th nastiest FB in the league 2007-2009, Morrow has the 12th...but League, the guy we traded Morrow for would have the 4th, per the comments section, if he didn't have a weird motion that makes him hard to categorize.
A rotation that starts with The King and Cliff Lee and some upside arms, a pen that has League and Kelley and Lowe and Aardsma, and a bunch of prospects either in AA now or hitting it this year (Robles, Pineda, Cortes, Fields, Hill, Orta, Paredes, et al)...There are a decided number of interesting arms on and around the Mariners right now. 
And we still have cash to add a Wash or a half-season of Bedard.
Very interesting.

Interesting that League has the 4th-best fastball in the league, considering that his splitfinger was statistically the best pitch of any type.  League is a biscuit away from being the next superstar reliever in the big leagues.

That'll do for us too,




Jim Callis on 10/1/09 about Robles, when he left him off his top 20 MWL prospects list:
Ben (Leland Grove): Did Mauricio Robles get any consideration? What's the skinny on him?  Jim Callis: A little, but he wasn't really close to making the list because spots are at a premium when I have 14 teams to choose from for 20 prospects. (It's going to get worse next year, when the MWL expands to 16 clubs.) Robles is a lefty with a low-90s fastball, but there's not a lot of projection remaining, his curveball is a below-average pitch and he still needs to throw more strikes. Promising, but not a Top 20 guy.
I'm really curious to know what makes him think it's below-average. I know two people that saw him pitch in Cali, and I listened to the announcers there talk, and there was NOTHING below-average about it.  Maybe the Ms fixed his grip?  *shrugs*  I have nothing.
All I know is guys don't look that stupid against a below-average pitch.  If he doesn't have the curve he gets into trouble, but I would expect that.  Any pitcher of that type scuffles if all he can get over that day is the FB.

But aside from his first start when we'd just had him as a reliever and he was traded right before that, his control was fine for a power pitcher.  He's gonna walk 3-4 guys per 9, but if he's striking out 9 that's perfectly fine.

Lookin forward to seeing him in AA where his curve will be revealed as either a mirage or the real deal.  I believe it's real, and any further improvement in control will only make him more dangerous.


that Callis saw Robles pitch?  I don't mean the question cynically; I mean it literally.
The ball-in-play results that you point out do strongly suggest that the hitters had a terrible go of it, trying to time him.


that Callis saw Robles pitch?  I don't mean the question cynically; I mean it literally.
The ball-in-play results that you point out do strongly suggest that the hitters had a terrible go of it, trying to time him.
As noted, it's all going to boil down to the same thing.  Callis, Zduriencik, you, me, and the bluebird in the window are still going to observe Robles in AA in 2010.  :- )  We're not going to vote him into the bigs or not; he gets to go pitch and cast his own vote.


Not to presume to know more than G, but I think it is appropriate to add:
Steven Hensley: absolutely throttled Midwest League -- 16 K, 0 BB, 0 R in 19.2 IP in four outings (yep, those are the real stats); jumped all the way to AA, struggled; took a step back to Cal League, took some time to adjust, then was dominant during the High Desert playoff run (moreso than Robles, FWIW).
Kenn Kasparek: After a wobbly April, absoluely rock steady in the Midwest League.  Take away those first 3 starts and you get this: 1.94 ERA; 8.65 K/9; 1.8 BB/9; 0.35 HR/9.


Two thumbs up for those guys.  Hensley is my 5th best starting pitcher, and Kasparek's 7th.

Kasparek used to throw harder before TJ surgery a couple of years ago. If he can get back to the low 90s regularly he can definitely shine with that sort of control, and from the sounds of it he's starting to do that. His slider's a weapon, his control is a weapon.  Nobody in the MWL is equipped to hit that slider, though.  I really wish we had a high-A park worth putting a pitcher in, but AA is crowded this year so Kenn will probably be in the Cal League and just as hard to judge there.

And Hensley trying to adjust in the Cal League is no slight on him as a prospect.  High Desert is brutal.  I'm looking forward to seeing the West Tenn team this year. It should be absolutely stocked with pitchers AND hitters worth being interested in.
Possible Roster:

Pineda, Robles, Cortes, Hensley, Hume
Paredes, Varvaro, Fields, Wild, Orta...
Ackley, Triunfel, Liddi, Poythress, Raben (or Dunigan), Halman, Peguero...
I don't think all those guys will be there, but enough of them will be that it should be a fascinating team even without Gillies.
4 of my top 5 starters, 5 or 6 of my top 10 hitters, and some intriguing bullpenners with pedigree?
I'll be disappointed if we're not running laps around some teams down there.


He has a change but it's nothing resembling an out pitch.
He's basically a two-pitch pitcher.  I dunno if you can really call him a "converted position player" since he's so young but he increased his FB about 10 MPH once the Tigers org took him off the field full-time, put him on the mound and taught him how to pitch.  His FB is wonderful and his curve is starting to be his impact pitch.  The problem with Rafael Soriano as a starter was that he just didn't have another pitch, no matter how fine a weapon his FB was.  Robles has that 2nd pitch.  I dunno if we can teach him a third, but I'm more concerned with him mastering the two he's got right now.
And I know I'm basically the person highest on Robles anywhere (except probably Robles and his family).  *smiles*  There are worse things.  If Doc can go out on a limb for Tui, I can do it on what I feel is an oak trunk for Robles. His one real caveat is his height.  If he was 6'3" he'd be a "prospect of note." Being short (and somewhat stocky) is causing people to limit his upside projection. 
We'll see if they're right to do so, but based on talent I don't see it.  He gets plenty of movement on his FB so needing that higher downward plane isn't a big deal.  And a change is something that LHPs normally use against RH hitters.  He already KILLS RH batters - it's LEFTIES that he walks (7.6 BB/9 to LH, 3.7 to RH). Most of his other stats are very similar between the two.

When he stops walking lefties he'll be basically unstoppable, no matter his height.  Maybe that takes a 3rd pitch, maybe just better control of the two he's got.  It's not something that worries me yet.



FYI (since this is the Robles page now...) here's his stats with us.
We traded for him, put him in relief for an inning, then bumped him to starting a couple of days later, totally messing up his rhythm.  Here's his game logs as a starter in High Desert (I listened to all these games):
8/5 (1st game after being used in relief, first start after trade): 0.1 IP, 5 hits, 5 runs (all earned), 0K / 2BB (ouch...please don't trade him and put him in the bullpen ever again)
8/11: 5 IP, 2 hits, 1 run, 3K / 6 BB (can't find his release point early, from having pitched 1.1 innings in the last 2 weeks, as he walks 4 guys in the first 2 innings, but he's unhittable and still only gave up 1 run)
8/16: 7 IP, 1 hit, 0 runs, 9K / 3BB (he destroyed Inland Empire)
8/23: 7 IP, 3 hits, 0 runs, 8K / 3BB (2nd try for Inland Empire, 2nd mass destruction by Robles)
8/28: 7 IP, 5 hits, 3 runs, 5K / 2BB (THIRD try for IE, and with some horrible calls and bad fielding that gave them 6 or 7 outs in an inning they finally scored).
9/4: 5 IP, 7 hits, 5 runs (1 earned), 8 K / 2 BB (there were 3 scored errors in this game, a passed ball and more that were misplays and not counted.  I remember.)

9/13 (playoffs): 7 IP, 2 hits, 0 runs, 8 K/ 1 BB

9/18 (playoffs): 4.1 IP, 5 hits, 5 runs, 5 K / 4 BB (Walked three guys in an inning and had his OF butcher a play to score 3 guys)
The rumor about him, looking at his line, is that he needs to get better control.  Once he was warmed up and on a regular schedule, he did this in his last 6 starts:
37.1 IP, 23 hits, 43K/15BB.  That's 5.5 hits, 10.3 K and 3.6 BB per 9.  It's not a huge sample size, but 6 starts is 6 starts.  It's a stupendous 5 weeks.
But more than what happens when everything goes right, I love his demeanor when it goes wrong.  When his guys are committing multiple errors in a game behind him, or umps are calling out players safe, the kid is unflappable.  He just gets back on the hill and throws gas.  He has the makeup I want in a pitcher as well as the stuff to be deadly.  As he gets the hang of the curve...look out.


over 30-40 consecutive innings, that's a lot different from a young Randy Johnson type whose mechanics just prevented him from ever stringing three consistent outings.
I'm likin' your sales pitch on Robles, G :- ) ... if he smokes AA he becomes a good draw at the deck for a Lester-mold starter...

Taro's picture

Do you have any idea on the movement of his pitches (fastball and curve)? It might give some insight on his opposite platoon splits.
I don't generally really care about pitcher height, since I think mechanics and deception are two much more important factors. Roble in the the picture above doesn't look he has a very long stride, but its hard to say anything about his mechanics without video...

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