(At some point I’ll get back towriting on the deeper minor league prospects but there’s been an inordinate amount
of dips into the minors for the lesser known, compelling me to act as the AP wire-writer
intern. Hopefully I’ll be able to get farther back into the minors later in the
week. For now, note that Justin Upton was promoted to Double-A, and yeah, he’s
I find irony in both Robertson and McBeth getting called
up in the same day – McBeth for the Reds, Robertson for the A’s – in as much as
McBeth would have been the call up for Oakland had circumstances not had him
dealt to the Reds in the Chris Denorfia deal, leaving Robertson as the Triple-A
Sacramento closer and top high-minor relief prospect; if there really is such a
thing. With the A’s bullpen struggling overall, the injury to Huston Street –irritation in his right ulnar nerve -– bears close scrutiny, and couldn’t have come at a worse time.
Robertson is interesting, although not as prolific as McBeth,
and probably profiles best as a set up man, not a closer of the future. A 31st
round pick in 2004, he was a solid NCAA hitter as well. He features three
pitches, a low 90s sinking fastball, a good slider, and a changeup still in
development but improved in the past two seasons. The one thing of relevance is
the improvements he’s made along the way while noting his minor league
strikeout rate is over one per inning at every level including this season in
the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. Since the McBeth trade on April 28, he’s
2-for-2 in save opportunities and hasn’t allowed a run in the seven appearances
since assuming the closer role.
He’s a work in progress; a late-inning reliever in development.
The Street injury could be a significant one, compared to Marlins’ Josh Johnson
who has a similar injury and projected to be sidelined for 2-3 months. At this
point I’m not aware of the severity; too early to pontificate on what role Robertson
will play. It wouldn’t be prudent to suggest he could close games in the majors,
but the bullpen is in shambles at present, and we’ve all seen short-term closing
solutions rise from obscurity in the past.
McBeth is the more established entity as one of the A’s
better prospects coming into the season. The trade that sent him to the Reds
was odd in as much as Denorfia was gone for the year with reconstructive
right elbow surgery before the deal was consummated. I believe the trade was a
knee-jerk reaction, the team deftly identifying a long term issue, capitalizing
on the injury to address it with a player that fit their definition, only to have
injuries exploit the problems in the short term.
McBeth, the former University of South Carolina
football player, turned outfielder, turned minor league closer has had inconsistent
velocity reports on his fastball –anywhere from 91-96 as the usual mph
velocity — with a weak, underdeveloped slider,
and a change up which projects as a plus pitch in the majors. Given he didn’t
start pitching until 2005, at age 25, I think there’s room for leeway ,although
it should be pointed out he’s been promoted aggressively due to his age and athleticism;
the results less than ideal for a closer in the making as his strikeout rate
has fallen at the upper level and is weak for the genre.
While this flies in face of the prospect logic of many
well-respected in the field, I still prefer Reds bullpen member Brad Salmon as
a long-term solution to closer over McBeth. That opinion out of the way, I won’t
discount the logic mentioned above on where closers come from. But I don’t
think McBeth is in those plans in the near future, still too inexperienced and definitely