Josh Roberson: Miami Marlins Pitcher on the Rise
Throughout the 2018/2019 offseason, Marlin Maniac will devote one article each for every player who appeared in the Miami Marlins system for the 2018 season. Every. Single. Player. This is Part 123 of 286. For the first 100, click here.
Josh Roberson is a 6’3″, 155 lb. right-handed pitcher from Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Born on May 12th, 1996, the Miami Marlins chose him in the 12th round of the 2017 MLB Amateur Draft, with the 359th overall choice out of the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.
In three seasons at UNC-Wilmington, Roberson appeared in 32 contests, starting 12 times for the Seahawks. He struck out 79 batters in 82 2/3 innings, going 2-3 with a 4.25 ERA and a 1.65 WHIP.
Roberson had struggled to limit his bases on balls, issuing 55 walks over 62 innings through his freshman and sophomore seasons. As a junior, prior to being drafted, he walked eight in 20 frames. Follow him on Twitter @JoshRoberson13, if you’re so inclined.
Players chosen with the 359th overall selection have ended up in the majors nine percent of the time, in just five of 54 cases. The group is led by Dwayne Murphy (1973, Oakland Athletics, 33.2 career WAR) and Brad Wilkerson (1995, Los Angeles Dodgers, 11.0 WAR). Roberson would like to be the sixth.
After his selection, Roberson signed with the Miami Marlins for a $150,000 bonus and reported to the GCL Marlins, in the rookie-level, Florida-based Gulf Coast League on June 30th. He didn’t get into any games in 2017, recovering from Tommy John surgery, and spent the season on the disabled list starting on July 8th. Activated after the season, he was part of the GCL Marlins opening day roster in 2018.
Roberson started the fifth game of the season for the GCL club, walking one, allowing one hit, and striking one out over 1 2/3 innings in a 3-0, five-inning rain-shortened victory against the GCL Nationals.
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Roberson ended up leading the GCL Marlins by a wide margin in victories, with five (nobody else had more than two). He earned a 1.06 ERA over a team-second 42 1/3 innings, with 31 whiffs and only 12 walks for a 0.945 WHIP. On four separate occasions, he allowed one hit in either four or five innings of work. His best start for them, on August 10th, he struck out two and allowed one hit and one walk over five innings, defeating the GCL Astros, 6-0.
Eventually, Roberson was pushed up to the Muckdogs with two weeks remaining in the campaign, and started a pair of games for them. In his first start, he allowed three hits and a walk over five innings, allowing a run and striking out one batter in an 8-1 victory on August 28th.
Roberson projects to the major league level as a power reliever, with two above-average pitches. He works a mid-90’s fastball and a knee-buckling slider to do his dirty work. Still considered a somewhat long-term project, he will probably start the 2019 season with the single-A Clinton LumberKings in the Midwest League.
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