Mariners Top 20 Prospects – #18 – Mauricio Robles
This is a series in which I’ll be going over my personal top 20 Seattle Mariners 2010 Prospects. As you can see, I’ll be counting them down, starting at 20, and I’ll try to do them, well, whenever I get the chance. Keep in mind that almost all of these are completely debatable, and reflect only my personal opinions.
Mauricio Robles is a 20 year old, 5’11, left handed fireballer out of Venezuela. He came to the Mariners with Luke French in the infamous Jarrod Washburn trade back in mid-2009, and then spent the remainder of the season down in High Desert. Despite being a young pitcher in the extremely hitter-friendly California league, he still managed to post an impressive 3.67 tRA, although in just 32.1 innings. But even though he pitched fairly well during his first, short stint with High Desert, his biggest weakness as a pitcher was still quite evident: his control.
While he clearly has the ability to miss bats and blow plenty of hitters away – he’s K’d 145 in his last 123.2 innings – but he has a serious walk problem, which is why he isn’t higher up on this list, and is probably why we were able to get him (and Luke French!) for half a season of Jarrod Washburn. The potential is absolutely there, as his stuff is completely filthy, but he’ll absolutely have to get a hold of his command if he wants to progress.
Another reason that he isn’t higher up on this list, is that there’s a decent chance he ends up being a reliever, and relief prospects just aren’t nearly as valuable as starting prospects. When you look at him, he just fits the mold of a late inning reliever – he’s left handed, he’s short, he’s stocky, and he relies on the strikeout. There’s a small chance he sticks as a starter, but in reality, the only way that happens is if he brings his control up to a much more respectable level, and develop the ability to work deeper into games, as he pitched just 31 innings in 6 starts in High-A ball this year. If he’s still a starting pitcher by the time I get to work on the 2011 list, expect him to be a lot higher up.
So those are his weaknesses, but don’t get to thinking there isn’t anything positive about Mauricio Robles, because there is. He has outstanding stuff, and top of the rotation potential. Much like it is with a good amount of players in the Mariners farm system, it’s all about putting it all together. His stuff really is that good, though. He has a mid 90’s fastball, that, while practically un-hittable, he unfortunately has a lot of trouble hitting his spots with, and an excellent curve. He also sports a change, but it’s nothing to write home about. Along with the obvious necessity of learning to command his pitches, Robles could stand to improve a lot by either working on his change up, or developing another pitch – this is just a spur of the moment thought, but I feel like a slider could nicely compliment his repertoire.
The stuff is there, the potential is there, but the command isn’t, and he’s still got a ways to go before he can come anywhere near breaking into the big leagues. I’d expect him to end up being a late inning reliever, but there’s still an off chance he sticks as a starter, and whether or not that happens will probably hinge on whether he can improve his command, and whether or not he can develop a third solid pitch. Keep in mind though, he’s still very young, and still new to the Mariners system, so it should be interesting to see what this next year of development can do for him.