AUSTIN ROBERTS, RIGHT HANDED PITCHER
|Born: July 27, 1998
Drafted: 8th Round, 244th Overall, 2019
How Acquired: Draft
College: Sacramento State
WTM’s PLAYER PROFILE
|Roberts served as a swing man at Sacramento State, but his stuff likely will play better in the bullpen and the Pirates aren’t fond of short starting pitchers. His fastball edges into the mid-90s with sink, and he has an average curve plus a change. Command may be an issue, which also points to the bullpen. As a freshman, Roberts was mainly a starter and had an ERA of 4.95 with nearly as many walks as strikeouts. He pitched mostly in relief as a sophomore and cut the ERA to 1.83 with a strikeout per inning and a dramatically lower walk rate. He divided his time as a junior between starting and relief, with a 3.18 ERA, and 30 walks and 84 strikeouts in 73.2 IP. Baseball America rated Roberts 269th in the draft pool and 19th in Northern California. He signed for $2500 under the slot value.
Roberts initially pitched in relief for West Virginia and started off with eight scoreless outings. He moved mostly into a starting role after that. He was a little less effective as a starter, but not that much less; opponents had a .647 OPS against him as a starter and .560 as a reliever. Not surprisingly, he missed a lot more bats as a reliever, with a 10.8 K/9 as opposed to 6.9 as a starter. He held right-handed batters to a .574 OPS, while left-handed batters had a .670 figure.
It’s very difficult to evaluate the 2021 seasons of many of the Greensboro pitchers and Roberts may be at the top of the list. The reason, of course, is the extreme home run park there. Roberts in many ways had a very good season; his control was good and he missed a lot of bats. Probably due to the slider, he was very tough on right-handed hitters. But he gave up 15 home runs, nearly one every four innings. Left-handed hitters battered him for a .927 OPS, including ten of the homers. Roberts allowed 11 of those longballs at home, where he had a 5.40 ERA. On the road he had a 3.56 ERA. He made one appearance for Indianapolis at the end of the year and fanned all four batters he faced.
Roberts had a fairly similar season to the year before. Some of the problems were the same as the year before: gopher balls and the home park. Roberts allowed nine home runs, or a little fewer than one every five innings. And he had an ERA of 5.55 at home and 3.00 on the road. The difference, though, is that Altoona has a pitcher’s park. Roberts had a reverse platoon split this time. He had some sharp ups and downs during the season. For instance, he dominated in April, with a 1.13 ERA, but then had a 12.38 ERA in May.
Roberts can pitch very well at times, even dominate, but then the struggles hit.
|2023: Minor league contract
|Signing Bonus: $166,000
MiLB Debut: 2019
MiLB FA Eligible: 2025
MLB FA Eligible:
Rule 5 Eligible: 2022
Added to 40-Man:
Options Remaining: 3
MLB Service Time: 0.000
|June 4, 2019: Drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 8th round, 244th overall pick; signed on June 11.|