With their second selection on the final day of the draft, the Miami Marlins continued to restock on pitching. This time, they rolled the dice.
Into the third day of the draft, it’s about selecting pitchers with upside. There are no clear-cut Major League superstars at this stage of the draft and projecting accurately into the future is nearly impossible. In the 12th round of the 2017 MLB Draft, the Miami Marlins took a gamble.
Miami chose to select Josh Roberson, a right handed pitcher out of UNC-Wilmington. Roberson could have easily found himself taken in the first or second day of the draft if it weren’t for health concerns. He had Tommy John surgery on his pitching arm at the end of May.
The team expects him to fully recover, otherwise he would have slid even further down the draft board.
Because his surgery was so recent, it’s difficult to say when we might be seeing Roberson start throwing again. The rehabilitation process has just begun. Recovery from Tommy John surgery usually takes anywhere from 12-15 months.
With that said, Miami doesn’t feel any need to rush Roberson to the mound and start throwing. They’ll be patient, and give him as much time as he needs to get his velocity and breaking ball back to where it was. If he does that, this is a pitcher that can make move through the system quickly.
Roberson is only 21 years old, and was drafted as a junior out of UNC-Wilmington. He stands at 6-foot-3, and weighs in at 175 pounds. Prior to his surgery, he was able to muster impressive velocity out of his wiry frame, and featured a plus curve ball.
How effective Roberson is when he returns from Tommy John is anyones guess. The Marlins clearly think he’ll return healthy as ever, though. They went above the slot for a 12th round selection, and drew $25,000 from their allotted draft pool dollars to sign him.
Figuring it out before injury
Roberson worked both out of the pen and as a reliever in college. In pro ball, he figures to be mostly a bullpen arm. He fits the profile of hard-throwing righty that the Marlins currently have in abundance. Think Kyle Barraclough, Drew Steckenrider, Brian Ellington type.
Because he has two pitches that are very effective, he doesn’t figure to have much success out of a Major League rotation. Developing a third pitch would take massive amounts of time, coupled with his recovery from surgery, it would delay his potential arrival substantially.
Prior to his injury, he was having his best season in UNC-Willmington. The North Carolina native had thrown 20 innings, and only allowed four earned runs; good for a 1.80 ERA. He started four of the five games he appeared in, throwing a high of six innings.
He threw a high of 108 pitches against Florida Gulf Coast before being shut down for over a month. His return included a planned three-inning start against High Point, in which he pitched exceedingly well. No runners reached base, while he struck out two on 31 pitches.
He would make one more appearance against Delaware before being shut down and having surgery one month later.
A lot of Roberson’s future is dependent on how he returns from surgery. If he comes back at full health and is able to touch the upper-90’s again, he could rise quickly as a reliever. The two-pitch combination of fastball-curveball sets him up perfectly to work effectively out of the pen.
As a 12th round selection, the Miami Marlins took a calculated gamble. Roberson could have easily gone in the first or second day if it weren’t for his injury. Tommy John isn’t a pitchers death sentence the way it used to be. The Miami Marlins will be counting on that.