Tigers Prospect Profile #33: James Robbins

Robbins was a mainstay at first base for Lakeland

James Robbins has maintained his presence in the back half of the top 50 ever since being drafted and signing out of high school back in 2009. Robbins is able to keep his spot on the list via his tremendous power potential; but will he ever realize it, or round out any of the other tools?

James Robbins
Position: First Baseman
Height: 6-0
Weight: 230
Born: 9/20/1990
Bats: Left
Throws: Left

Acquired: 2009 MLB Draft, 30th Round
Ranking History: #20 (2009), #60 (2010), #49 (2011)

Background
Robbins signed at the August deadline for $235,000 in 2009 and made a brief nine-game appearance in the Gulf Coast League. He hit an impressive .361 with a triple and two bombs in that brief showing.

With short-season Connecticut in 2010, Robbins hit .251 as a 19-year old. His line was bolstered by eleven doubles, three triples and three home runs, though he did whiff 91 times in just 69 games.

Promoted to Low-A West Michigan in 2011, Robbins hit the exact same .251 and fanned 158 times in 129 games. What little contact he did make was typically hard as he popped 26 doubles and 16 home runs for the Whitecaps.

Robbins continued to progress one level at a time in 2012 with a stop in High-A Lakeland. In 124 games the now 22-year old hit just .237 but slugged 29 doubles and eleven home runs in a difficult hitting environment.

Scouting Report
Since high school, Robbins' calling card has been his power. With a stocky, strong build, Robbins looks the part of a slugger. He has good bat speed and the strength to drive the ball to all fields.

As a hitter, Robbins is extremely unrefined. He chases out of the strike zone consistently and as he has faced more refined pitchers, his strikeout totals have spiked, including 171 punch outs in just 455 at-bats in 2012. Robbins has an aggressive swing with little feel for count or situation. His swing path has some uppercut to it, short circuiting his time in the hitting zone.

Robbins has little projection to hit for average and his lack of pitch recognition or strike zone discipline leave him without much projection for working counts and getting on base. His offensive profile is purely power driven and even with that, he will have to make more contact to utilize his pop in game situations.

Robbins has improved some in the field but is still a below-average defender at first base. His footwork is inconsistent and there are times when he appears to lack any feel around the bag. He has decent hands and he has significantly improved his ability to pick low throws. His best defensive asset is his above-average to plus arm.

It is a difficult profile but Robbins power bat makes him a prospect. His plus-plus raw power is difficult to find and is coveted in baseball. For his offensive potential to fully manifest, Robbins will have to realize multiple grade jumps with his hit tool. If he does, he could blast 20-25 home runs from the left side.

Performance

Level

Team

AB

AVG

2B

HR

RBI

SO

BB

OBP%

SLG%

A+

Lakeland

455

.237

29

11

62

171

37

.295

.382


Health Record
Robbins has not had any significant injuries in his career. He must continue to keep tabs on his conditioning, something that has gotten out of hand in the past.

Projection
No matter how you slice it, Robbins projects as a low batting average slugger. Whether he improves the utility of his hit tool enough to allow him to hit .250 with power at the big league level, or whether he struggles to do that and tops out as a minor league slugger, remains to be seen. The Tigers could push him to Double-A in 2013 to make room for Aaron Westlake in High-A, a move that would further test his ability to make contact.

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