Prospect Profile: James Robbins
By John Verburg
As a courtesy to prospect followers out there, I have begun to bring you some scouting reports on guys that may not make our upcoming prospect list, but are just on the outside looking in. Today, I take a look at James Robbins, who spent the 2011 season with the West Michigan Whitecaps.
For a more in depth look, just click on continue……
Robbins is a 21 year old left-handed hitting 1st baseman that the Tigers drafted in the 30th round of the 2009 draft. A pitcher as well as a hitter in high school, Robbins had a little bit of leverage when he came out and signed for an above slot bonus. After signing, Robbins didn’t waste any time impressing the Tigers and their fans, tearing it up in the Gulf Coast League late in 2009. It was just 36 at-bats, but Robbins hit .361 including a couple homers and a triple. When 2010 rolled around, Robbins stayed back in Florida in extended spring training, and then latched on with the Connecticut Tigers when their short-season squad began. Robbins hit just .251 for the C-Tigers, failing to show any power, and striking out a ton. Still, when 2011 began, the Tigers sent Robbins to West Michigan for his first full-season effort. Robbins matched his 2010 batting average at .251, but this time, he hit some home runs, tallying 16 on the season for the Whitecaps.
Robbins is a pretty big kid. He isn’t tall really, listed at just 6’0″, but he weighs in at 225lbs. Obviously he will have to work on limiting weight gain, and sculpting his body some, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a good athlete. Robbins as mentioned worked from the mound in high school and can get over 90 mph on the mound. So, he has a good arm in the field, though it is rarely used at 1B. For his size, he isn’t a bad runner and moves well around the bag defensively.
Offensively, Robbins projects as a power hitter. He is rather aggressive at the plate, and does generate a good amount of bat speed. When Robbins makes contact, it is usually solid, and he has the ability to send the ball over the fence to any part of the ball park. His scouting reports out of high school suggest a youngster with a good idea at the plate and a willingness to take the ball where it is pitched, however that hasn’t been the case the past two seasons.
Robbins biggest issue at the plate is he is going to have to display some patience going forward. His BB/K rate is atrocious, and his approach has turned into a swing hard in case you hit it approach. Unless he tones it down, guys with good breaking balls and the ability to pitch backwards are going to have a field day with Robbins. His swing can get long at times, and could stand to generate power from his lower half a little bit more. He has also displayed some issue with pitch recognition.
Thus far, the initial scouting reports on Robbins haven’t really matched the player, with the exception of his power potential. When I have seen him, I came away thinking that he looks like a guy that is a young hitter. His approach wasn’t good and he looked to be trying to pull everything. Most of the time, he ended up pulling off the ball and either swinging and missing, or hitting weak grounders to the 1st baseman. Still, the power is real, and there is potential here for him to improve greatly. Remember, this is a guy who is concentrating on being an offensive player now for the first time, and heck if he doesn’t work out at 1B, he could maybe go back to the mound.
I really do think that there is going to have to be some clear improvement for Robbins in 2012 as far as his BB/K rate goes, otherwise, I can’t see there being much here as a hitter. If I am the Tigers, I am having Robbins repeat 1B for the Whitecaps in 2012.