So who is David Robertson?

Video breakdown of Phil's mechanics
Remembering a bad trade from 1999

Robertson on the Cape /

As I’ve been noting throughout the year in Down on the Farm, Charleston righthanded reliever David Robertson is absolutely rolling. I’ve been getting a good amount of email and comments about him, so I thought it was worth it to drum up a post, filling you in on the relief version of Tim Lincecum.

So far this year Robertson’s thrown 17.1 innings, giving up only 5 hits and 6 walks (0 runs, earned or otherwise) against 25 strikeouts. He’s holding opponents to a get-the-hell-outta-here .086 batting average against, and he sports a nice little 2.86 GB/FB ratio. He’s on Yanks’ typical “2 innings every 3 days” plan for developing relievers, and has been especially unhittable since he went 1.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 2 K in his first outing of the year.

He attended the University of Alabama, where he was your typical do-everything college pitcher. He started some, he closed some, he came on in middle relief some, but his calling card remained the same throughout: lots of K’s, but also a fair amount of walks. The Yanks took him in the 17th round with the intention of following his progress through summer ball, and boy did Robertson step up to the plate.

Pitching for Yarmouth-Dennis in the Cape Cod League, Robertson was perfect in 15 innings, striking out 15 men in the process. And when I say perfect, I mean perfect – he didn’t allow a single base runner all summer. This is especially impressive because the Cape is basically a league of college All-Stars, where the best of the best go to strut there stuff for the following year’s draft. Robertson also took home Playoff MVP honors on the Cape, a reward for his shutdown relief work. After that performance the Yanks showed him the money, giving him a bonus in excess of $100,000.

Rail thin at 5′-11″, 175 lbs, Robertson works primarily off his low-90’s fastball, which actually lost some heat since college. His slider is a hard downer, a knock-out pitch that he uses to record all those K’s. He also throws a garden variety curveball and changeup, but as a reliever he’ll use them about as often as a knuckleball or eephus pitch. He’s done a good job of cutting down his walks, but the big test will come in higher levels, when he might not be able to simply pound the zone and overpower hitters as easily as Low-A guys.

He recently turned 22, so he is old for his level. A promotion to Tampa, and possibly even Trenton, is inevitable at this point, and he’s very much a legit prospect. Given the injuries to JB Cox and Mark Melancon, Robertson has entrenched himself as the number 2 relief prospect in the system behind Kevin Whelan. If I were to whip up a prospect list today, I’d stick him in the 10-15 range.

EJ of Pending Pinstripes was wise enough to rank Robertson in his Top 30 Prospects, sticking him at number 27. Pinstripes Plus also has a recent article up on Robertson, though you need a subscription to read it.

(Photo via

**Correction** As commentor Lorraine points out, some of Robertson’s Cape Cod League stats are incorrect. I took those stats from EJ’s report on Robertson because I can’t find 2006 Cape stats for the life of me. Since I still can’t find any ’06 stats, I can’t update those numbers, but I assure you he was still awesome (I followed his progress religiously on one of my previous blogs, hoping the Yanks would cut a deal with him once the season was over). Mistake acknowledged though, my bad.

Video breakdown of Phil's mechanics
Remembering a bad trade from 1999
  • Lorraine

    Some of the stats are not accurate. In the Cape he threw well over 15 innings and did allow runners, but during the playoffs he pitched 7.3 innings with 16 K’s and no hits, no walks. Robertson is also no longer rail thin. In Charleston he is currently 190lbs. Also, Robertson isn’t that old for his level, there are many guys on the team that are older.