The speedy outfielder added power to his in the high minors.

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While blue chip prospects get the most national attention , good farm systems are most usually typified by their depth. Having a large number of high-variance prospects is an objectively good thing, even if they’re not the most widely publicized. Obviously, most wash out, but some do eventually become stars. Award-winning players like Jacob deGrom, Jose Altuve, and Albert Pujols were unheralded as prospects but have gone on to highly successful careers. Outfielder Jake Robson is an excellent example of that kind of depth in the Tigers’ system. He was a high-risk pick coming out of college, but he’s already well surpassed his developmental floor and is rocketing towards his ceiling. While it’s still up in the air whether he’ll one day be an MLB regular, he’s already a success story for Detroit’s developmental program and looks like he could contribute in the bigs as soon as next season.BackgroundDrafted only two years ago, Robson moved very quickly through Detroit’s minor league system. A very successful college career saw him post batting averages north of .320 in two of his three full seasons along with a stout walk rate. He caught the Tigers’ eye — they popped him in the 8th round of the 2016 draft. He has outperformed any expectations that were laid upon him at the time. Robson has cleaned up at every level of the minors he’s played in, including lengthy stints in Double- and Triple-A in 2018. Opening with Erie, he slashed .286/.382/.450 with seven home runs and drew walks 12.5 percent of the time. That’s a mighty fine performance; according to wRC+, it was 33% above league average. He followed that up with an equally towering run in Toledo. He put up a .305/.369/.427 line, worth a wRC+ 27 percent above average.StrengthsThe attribute that brought Robson some attention when he was drafted was his speed, and that’s still his calling card. He’s a plus runner both on the bases and in the field. He’s still refining his instincts on the bases, as borne out by a 17-for-27 stolen base ratio in 2018, but the tools are there for him to be trouble for pitchers when he gets on base. It also contributes to his fielding: he’s easily got the skills to run down balls hit into the expansive area of Comerica’s outfield.His skill in the grass extend beyond sheer range, though. Reports don’t say much about his instincts, but all that means is that he’s not a preternatural freak with the glove a la Kevin Kiermaier or Byron Buxon. He should be enough of a defenseman to play up the middle, which obviously increases his value as a prospect. It looks like Robson may have more to offer on the offensive side of the game than first expected, though. Here’s what Emily Waldon of The Athletic had to say in her preseason Tigers Top 30 Prospects list:As the numbers referenced earlier would indicate, Robson utilized a newfound power stroke in 2018. If this new facet of his game is for real, that would obviously boost his value immensely. There will always be a place in the game for players with both power and speed. Even if he only makes minimal contact, that combination of attributes makes for a decent bench piece. It also can’t be neglected that Robson has what may be the best nickname in the entire organization. The standard of shortening names to a one-syllable grunt doesn’t apply in this case. Robson was born in London Chuck Klein Jersey , Ontario, and his Canadian heritage has earned him the name “The Maple Hammer.” If that doesn’t qualify as delightful, I don’t know what would.WeaknessesAlthough the offensive outburst that fueled his ascent to Triple-A is a nice addition to his profile, there’s not a ton of reasons to believe that the power Robson showed was necessarily permanent. First of all, he still hits a ton of ground balls. Power is difficult to showcase if a player is constantly drilling balls into the infield dirt, but over half of Robson’s batted balls ended up on the ground. His Triple-A rate of 57.4 percent would have been among the highest of qualified MLB batters. It’s not an impossible trick to pull off — the Astros’ slugging right fielder George Springer hits nearly half of his balls on the ground — but it makes success at the major league level very difficult. Furthermore, a look at his batting average on balls in play would indicate that, to a certain extent, Robson was getting lucky in 2018. An normal batting average on balls in play would hover around .300. Speedsters generally are able to pad that number thanks to their ability to beat out throws. Robson’s figures, though, were very high. He put up rates of .382 and .406 in 2018. Frankly, those are inflated and unsustainable. As they normalize, the rest of his stats will obviously suffer. To what extent, though, will determine his role. Finally, while his speed makes him an asset on defense, his arm limits his defensive flexibility to center and left. It’s far from a death knell as a prospect, and he doesn’t profile well in right field offensively anyway, but it does limit his versatility. In the end, Robson has several quality tools, but while he got to more power in-game this year, projections still don’t expect him to have quite enough punch to stick in the majors. At least not as a regular. However, hitting his ceiling as a fourth outfielder does seem a much more realistic expectation than it did a year ago.Projected Team: Triple-A Toledo Mud HensDespite his marked progressions during the 2018 season Jimmy Foxx Jersey , it’s still unclear when Robson will be ready for time in the big leagues. He has no track record of hitting for power outside of last season. As we’ve often said before, there is no greater jump than the one from Triple-A to the majors. There’s no equivalent of Justin Verlander, Adam Ottavino, or Corey Kluber in the minors. Anyone who is that much better than the competition would be serving as a backend starter or seventh-inning arm for the parent club. In other words, there is still a lot of work to be done to prove the leap he made in 2018 was sustainable.What’s more, the Tigers have little motivation to start the outfielder’s service time clock before they absolutely need to. He’s not a major part of their plans for the future, but he may supplant Mikie Mahtook as a fourth outfielder at some point in the near future. It’s also possible that a Nick Castellanos trade could open up more playing time, and get Robson up to the show more quickly than expected. Barring that, it will probably take ongoing, major struggles from centerfielder JaCoby Jones to spur the Tigers to give Robson a call. Stuck between Jones, and a high-end centerfield prospect in Daz Cameron at Toledo, Robson is going to have to make his opportunities count this season to avoid getting lost in the shuffle. Indians add a pitcher and 1B/catcher in AAA phase but lose a pair of pitchers and a first baseman."WhiteFanposts Fanshots Sections NewsAnalysis & EditorialsCleveland Indians prospects & minor leaguesGame RecapsTransactionsCleveland Indians prospects & minor leaguesCleveland Indians Rule 5 Draft 2018: Kyle Dowdy among four prospects lost New,21commentsIndians add a pitcher and 1B/catcher in AAA phase but lose a pair of pitchers and a first baseman.ByBrian Hemminger@BrianHemmingerDec 13, 2018,5:43pm ESTShareTweetShareShareCleveland Indians Rule 5 Draft 2018: Kyle Dowdy among four prospects lost Kim Klement-USA TODAY SportsThe Cleveland Indians’ Major League departure from this year’s Rule 5 draft was right-handed pitcher Kyle Dowdy, who was chosen by the New York Mets with the 8th overall pick of the Major League Phase. The Mets will now be on the hook to keep Dowdy on their 25-man roster for the entire season and pay the Indians $100,000. If they do not, they will have to return Dowdy to the Tribe and receive only half of their payment back in return.Dowdy, 25, spent parts of last year in Double-A and Triple-A with both the Detroit Tigers and Cleveland Indians. He was the second player in the Leonys Martin trade for Willi Castro. Overall in 30 games played and 20 starts combined across three teams and two levels, Dowdy held a 5.15 ERA through 124 innings pitched while striking out 120 and walking 50.Of note, Dowdy’s velocity spiked after he was acquired by the Tribe, topping out around 99 mph in his starts for Akron at the end of the season when he helped lead the team to the Eastern League playoffs , notably striking out nine in 6.0 shutout innings in his final start of the regular season.While Dowdy can still be returned if he fails to stay on the Mets’ 25-man roster all of next year, every other player selected either by the Indians or other teams are gone for good.That means #TeamEsparza is over after the Indians failed to keep RHP Matt Esparza on their Triple-A roster for the Rule 5 draft. The Los Angeles Angels selected Esparza in the minor league portion of the draft. Esparza, 24, was a 14th round draft pick out of UC Irvine in 2015. He notably led all Cleveland Indians minor league pitchers in strikeouts in 2016 with 141 whiffs in 139 innings pitched. He had a strong 2017 as well, but he was injured for nearly the entire 2018 season, never evolving past a few rehab outings in Arizona and High-A Lynchburg. Anthony Miller, 24, was an 18th round draft pick by the Indians in 2015. He repeated 2018 at High-A Lynchburg and saw his hitting numbers improve with a slash of .264/.363/.432 but he wasn’t seen as much more than an afterthought in the organization. Maybe his outlook will improve with the A’s.Hector Figueroa, 24, an international signing out of the Dominican Republic, missed the entire 2016 season and didn’t make his way to the United States until last year, where he 2.78 ERA in 14 relief appearances where he struck out 22 batters and walked 10 over 22 innings pitched. Now onto the Indians draftees.Yapson Gomez, 25, was an international signing out of Venezuela. It took him a while to get going as he spent his first three professional seasons pitching in either the Venezuelan League of the Dominican Summer League. Gomez made it to High-A last season, holding a 2.45 ERA in 10 appearances out of the bullpen. Perhaps the Indians saw something they liked in the left-hander.Wilson Garcia, 24, is a first base/catching prospect who also hails out of Venezuela. The Orioles acquired Garcia in 2018 from the Philadelphia Phillies for cash and he proceeded to have one of his best offensive seasons, slashing .293/.323/.510 with a huge power surge to 23 home runs (doubling his career total of 22 up to that point) while only striking out about 10 percent of the time. It will be interesting to see if the Indians give him more time at catcher, a position he’s played less in recent years, although he holds a career 40 percent rate for throwing out would-be basestealers.

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