The Cardinals have made their second selection of the night, and with the 43rd overall pick they popped Griffin Roberts, a right-handed pitcher out of Wake Forest.
I wrote Roberts up in May, and not a ton has changed in the month since then. At the time, I said he was likely in the 35-50 range, and happened to be one of my favourite players in that range. Well, he went 43rd, and I love him, and now he’s a Cardinal. On a personal level, I am a very happy individual right now.
The Good: Roberts features two current plus pitches, in a hard, sinking fastball that can push up against 95 mph and a slider that’s actually not really a plus pitch. It’s better than a plus pitch. It is, in fact, maybe the best breaking ball in the whole draft this year, or at least one of the very best. Mid-80s velocity, slider tilt, curveball depth. It is a devastating pitch. He shows pretty good feel for a changeup, as well, though it’s clearly a distant third right now in terms of his arsenal.
The Bad: That changeup does need work, and it’s possible Roberts ends up in a bullpen, leaning on his 1-2 punch to make up for a lack of development and polish. He made big strides from the beginning of his college career to the end in terms of limiting walks and throwing strikes, but he still needs to refine that command further. In spite of the stuff, he was a little more hittable this season than you might think, largely because the quality of strikes he threw wasn’t always that high.
My verdict: Personally, I’m thrilled with this pick, maybe even more than I was with the pick of Gorman in the first round. I’m not saying I think Roberts is a better player, mind you; I just have more questions of Gorman as a first-rounder than I do Roberts at pick 40+.
I really hope the Cardinals give Roberts every chance to continue trying to develop as a starter, because the overall stuff, I believe, could make him a premium prospect in the rotation down the road. It’s possible they could stick him in the ‘pen and strap the rocket to his ass to power him up to the big leagues in a hurry, but I would worry then about him getting stuck in relief work, a la Trevor Rosenthal. Even if that is the way things go, though, Roberts could end up a monster reliever with the level of stuff he possesses in the fastball/slider combo.
via Baseball America: