By La Velle
Baseball America just released its rankings of the top Midwest League prospects, and it includes lefthander Tyler Robertston and righthander Jeff Manship.
You’re going to hear more and more about Robertson over the next year, as he’s emerged as one of the Twins’ top prospects. In fact, he’s in my top ten prospects list that will be released on Sunday.
You already should know about Jeff Manship, who stepped up this year, too. The Twins have other prospects at Beloit, like outfielders Christopher Parmelee and Joe Benson, and catcher Wilson Ramos (another one to keep an eye on).
Here’s what was written about Manship:
Manship carved up the MWL before he left for high Class A in late June, allowing one run or less in 11 of his 13 starts and two runs in another. The only time he got hit was when he visited South Bend—where he pitched collegiately at Notre Dame—and tried to overthrow, costing him his usual exquisite command. He doesn’t pinpoint his pitches quite as well as fellow Twins righty Kevin Slowey, but it’s close.
“He has a chance to fly through their system,” the second scout said, “and become their next Brad Radke.”
Outside of his plus 12-to-6 curveball, Manship’s stuff isn’t as overwhelming as his numbers. His average fastball sits at 88-92 mph, and he also throws a changeup and an occasional slider.
As a college pitcher with the ability to locate his pitches as well as he does, Manship should have dominated the MWL. He didn’t overmatch hitters as much in the Florida State League, though he still went 8-5, 3.15 and continued to induce plenty of groundballs.
As many teenage pitchers do, Robertson faced some adjustments in his first full year as a pro. Even after he spent the first two months in extended spring training, the grind of the longer season sapped some of the juice out of his fastball, which dropped from 90-94 mph as an amateur to 86-90 this year.
The loss of velocity didn’t faze Robertson, who had 143 strikeouts in 120 innings, including two stellar playoff starts. He piled up whiffs with a slider that he could get hitters to miss in the strike zone of chase off the plate. His big 6-foot-5 body gives him projection and good downward plane that creates a lot of groundballs.
Robertson has an unorthodox, stiff delivery that works for him now but could lead to problems down the road. It’s deceptive and throws hitters’ timing off, though it also puts a lot of stress on his shoulder.