Robinson brings tons of confidence, potential to Indians
Jared Robinson is about as confident a pitcher as you will find in the Indians minor league system.
Selected in the 11th round out of this year’s draft out of Cerritos Junior College in California, the just turned 20-year old right-handed pitcher combines a mix of youthful exuberance and supreme confidence to get results on the mound.
“I am the type of pitcher that you don’t want to face,” Robinson said. “I am that guy on the mound that you see is listed as 5-feet-10 and you just look at me and you see 6-feet-7 out there. I have a live fastball and when I am on I can’t be touched.”
Robinson backed up his talk in his first pro season as he made nine appearances with rookie level Arizona this year and went 0-2 with a 1.23 ERA. In 22.0 innings he held hitters to a .177 batting average and had a 0.95 WHIP, 2.9 BB/9 and 7.8 K/9.
“I throw a fastball from 93-96 MPH and top out at 97 MPH,” Robinson noted. “I have a good breaking ball, changeup and I have a cutter. I added the cutter my sophomore year in junior college. My pitching coach came up to me and asked if I threw a cutter and I said no, so he said we are going to work on throwing a cutter this year. Fortunately enough that was my go to pitch and now that is one of my top pitches I throw.”
Robinson’s exposure was limited this past season because the Indians did not want to overextend his arm in his first pro season. After appearing in 18 games and pitching 93.0 innings with Cerritos College earlier in the year, they did not want him to pile up very many more innings and capped him off at 115 innings. That should set the stage for him to start and haul a good amount of innings next season.
The Indians plan to develop him as a starting pitcher, but chances are he ends up in the bullpen as he progresses in his career. He has the profile with his smaller build, power stuff and moxie to be a force in one or two inning stints, but the Indians want to first be sure they are not missing anything with him as a potential starting option.
Robinson feels he can impact the team in any role.
“Oh man, it is close,” Robinson pondered. “They have me down as a starting pitcher but I can do it all. I can start, I can come in in relief or I can close the door.”
While Robinson pitched sparingly this past season, he learned a lot in the short amount of time he was in Arizona. He began to learn about routines, mental preparation and all of the intangibles that come with pitching.
“I had four months to learn a lot of things from the coaches,” Robinson said. “It was a good learning experience for me coming from a JUCO and not having the coaching I did back in high school. So it really did help me progress as a man and as a player.”
One of the first things Robinson noticed upon signing with the Indians and working with their coaches is the improvement in his command and stuff.
“I would have to say I am better with the command of my pitches,” Robinson said. “I have my fastball, curveball and changeup but just playing at the next level got me better at commanding them, hitting my spots and knowing where to locate them to the hitters.”
There are certainly areas Robinson needs to improve. He working to throw more strikes and be around the zone a little more consistently. He also is looking to get stronger, throw harder and develop his offspeed offerings a little more.
“I would like to improve my velocity and I am working on my changeup a lot more,” Robinson noted. “I know it is there when I need it, but there is always room for improvement. So I would like to work on my changeup a little more than what I am used to. In college everybody had a good breaking ball or fast fastball, but when you get to the next level you find out you need a good changeup to make it to the big leagues so that is why I want to work on it more.”
Robinson is an interesting talent for the Indians to get in the 11th round of the draft. Pitchers with the kind of upside he has with his arm and stuff typically go higher, but being smaller in size pushed him into more of a potential late bonus round pick.
As players come off the board the first two days of the draft and he was not picked in the first ten rounds he did not lose faith that he would be picked and enter into a good situation. Finally, on the third day of the draft he was taken off the board right away.
“Man, you hear what rounds you could possibly go in, but you are just sitting at home waiting and wondering if you are going to get the call that day, what round it will be and how much,” Robinson recalled. “On that third day I was just sitting at home with my family and not thinking about it and was more relaxed. My brother was watching the TV and my name popped up. You just think to yourself, ‘Man, I did it. All of the hard work and time I have put into this sport, I did it and I am one of the select few who made it.’”
The Indians were not a surprise to Robinson as he had an inkling they would eventually take him.
“My area scout was Ryan Thompson and he is a good guy,” Robinson said. “I was predicted to go in the five to ten rounds, but as the rounds went on I did not get picked and did not lose hope. I talked to the Indians a lot and they were the team that picked me.”
As a pitcher with two years of college eligibility left and not being selected in the top 10 rounds, it was possible that Robinson could have elected not to sign and continued to pitch in college. He was set to transfer to a four year school and play baseball at Cal State University, Dominguez Hills but felt the time was right to sign.
“Coming out of high school and going to JUCO, in those two years I felt I got a lot better than I did,” Robinson said. “I just felt like I needed to take that next step and start my career in professional baseball. I had to choose what fit me best.”
Now, Robinson is home for the offseason enjoying some time off but also getting prepared for his first full season as a professional next year. The first offseason for a player is always a learning experience as they do not yet really know what they need to do to prepare for a full season until they have been through it.
“I think a lot of it is preparing for the upcoming season,” Robinson said about his offseason plans. “I have to take a little time off to give my arm a little bit of a break since I transferred straight from JUCO into professional baseball. In the meantime it is just running, working out, conditioning and a lot of mental stuff I have to work on as a pitcher. From there, when I come back, I will be more prepared than I was coming in.”
Outside of baseball Robinson likes to have fun and do all of the things a young man does in their late teens and early 20s.
“There is a lot to me once you get to know me is I am a fun guy,” Robinson said. “One thing people don’t know about me is I like to dance. I like to do a lot of ballet and contemporary dancing in my spare time. I like cooking too. So other than baseball I am just living a normal life like any teenager.”
Follow Tony and the Indians Baseball Insider on Twitter @TonyIBI. Also, his new book the 2014 Cleveland Indians Baseball Insider which profiles the Indians' Top 100 Prospects and more is available for sale.
Joseph is just another ray of sunshine brought to brighten the day...
Yes.. that is sarcasm..
Anyway, Robinson was my favorite 3rd day pick along with Eubank. Those two have as much upside as most 5-10 round picks.
Tony, will Robinson open in LC, maybe as a piggyback option?
Good luck to a fine pitcher.