Scouting Jays’ Prospect #10: Ryan Roberts
Roberts' range at second is questioned
Roberts' range at second is questioned

Posted Mar 3, 2006


The Toronto Blue Jays drafted Ryan Roberts in the 18th Round of the 2003 Major League Baseball Draft out of the University of Texas-Arlington. Roberts had a successful beginning to his professional season, however, a promotion to Dunedin proved too much for him to handle last season. This past season the second baseball had a breakout performance, and as a result was added to the 40-man roster in October. Here is a complete scouting report on Roberts. ---FREE PREVIEW OF PREMIUM CONTENT.

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Vital Statistics:
Name: Ryan Roberts
Position: Second Base-Third Base
DOB: September 19, 1980
Height: 5’11
Weight: 193
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Ryan Roberts realized something was not right after a mid-season promotion to Dunedin in 2004, and as a result became more serious about his duty as a professional baseball player. The infielder had serious competition ahead of him with Carlo Cota a step ahead of him, and performing better. As a result Robert decided he needed to devote more time to baseball and he did just that last offseason , taking advantage of what the Blue Jays offered him.

Roberts hit .283 with 13 home runs and 39 runs batted in during sixty-four games with Charleston of the South Atlantic League. He was then given a mid-season promotion to the Florida State League and hit just .239 in 205 at bats. At the same time, another infielder in Blue Jays system, Carlo Cota, hit .294 with 11 home runs and 63 RBI during 116 games with Dunedin.

“One thing I took advantage of was that they opened our spring training facility early for anybody that wanted to head down” said Roberts. “I didn’t attend it my first spring training and this year I went down on February 1 to work out a little more, and I can see it paying off now.”

Roberts had coaches hitting him ground balls and working on his fielding. He also ran the same drills he would be running in spring training and basically got two extra months of practice before heading into the season. When it was time for spring training to begin Roberts was a step ahead of everyone else.

“My timing at the plate was better and my defense was better. It took all the rust away and by the second month of the season I felt I was in mid-season form.” Roberts proved he was ready to play as he hit .275 (22-80) with three home runs and fifteen runs batted in during his first twenty games in the Florida State League. At the same time his competition [Carlo Cota] was struggling with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. Cota hit just .243 (18-74) in his first nineteen games at Double-A.

“Moving up from High-A was a great honor for me” Roberts said. “I try to think that this is Double-A or a higher level, and take the approach that it is just a baseball game.”

“I never really focused on it” said Roberts regarding if he was thinking about being promoted to Double-A. “There is always a possibility you could be moved up during the year, and at the same time you could be moved down during the year. I didn’t try to think of that too much and was just happy to be putting on a uniform and play the game as hard as I can. If I do that then I know the opportunity for advancement will be waiting for me.”

Roberts continued his tear into May and hit just below .300 in twenty-two games with six home runs and twenty runs batted in. However, in what would be his final three games with Dunedin Roberts went 5-13 with three home runs and nine RBI. His .287 average and nine home runs was good enough to warrant a promotion to Double-A.

“Basically I just tried to find my swing and my approach” said Roberts about his approach this off-season. “Repetition is a big key for me and I was worked on doing the same thing over, and over again. I focused on my swing and my balance every day to repeat my approach and gain some consistency.”

Roberts struggled as he arrived to Double-A hitting just .167 in his first eight games, but has been on a tear since hitting .325 with eight home runs and twenty-seven RBI in his last seventy-seven at bats. In his 21 games during that span he has belted seven doubles and one triple. With runners in scoring position he is 10-29 (.345) with two home runs and sixteen runs batted in. With runners on base, Roberts is hitting .347 (17-49) with four home runs and twenty-three runs batted in.

“It always feels good when you are playing well” said the second baseman. “I try to get a fastball out over the plate and as a result that helps me cover the slider as well. I try to drive the ball hard from gap-to-gap and try to lay off on swinging on anything inside.”

This amazing season could turn into a billboard for Roberts as he might decide to document it on his body. Roberts over thirty tattoos over his body and said they represent important points in his life, and it is a way for him to remember them.

“I started getting them around high school, and they document the important event in my life. It basically is a billboard of my past.”

Roberts was a third baseman coming out of college, and remained at the hot corner for most of the first two years of his pro career.

"I've just really started at second base, I played there some in 2004, but I'm pretty comfortable now that I've had a full year at the position," Roberts says.

He takes extra balls at second, fungos and batting practice grounders. While many of he infielders take a few and then start messing around, Roberts fields every single ball like it could clinch a playoff spot. He's been working on the mechanics of turning the double play, setting his feet early, spinning and rotating to get the throw to second.

Why was Roberts successful in 2005?

"Nothing really 'clicked' this year," Roberts says of his '05, a year in which he jumped from Hi-A to Double-A and impressed at both levels. He started with nine dingers in 164 at bats in Hi-A, then after the promotion he hit 15 more in 338 at bats.

"I think the reason I had success was because I was consistent. I was making the right kind of swing. My coaches have told me I have all the tools, but it isn't like a light went on, this kind of thing doesn't all come at once."

Still, '04 was the season when the Blue Jays decided to move him around, some time at third, some at shortstop, and some at second base. Could that have helped him in the long run?

"I think it did help, because I wasn't thinking about the power as much," Roberts says, "the biggest thing I'm down here to work on is my swing--keeping it consistent--when I came out of college I was hitting a lot of home runs, and when you make the switch from aluminum to wood some of that power is gone."

It might seem obvious to someone who's never made the adjustment, but for an 'undersized' (Roberts goes 5'11" 190lbs) third baseman in pro ball, when the power goes the immediate reaction has got to be 'something's wrong.'

"The swing I've had the most success with, the one that I've been trying to stick with, is a soft, quick swing. When you're swinging with aluminum you don't have to catch the ball on the sweet spot, you can be a little off and it'll still go, and I had a 'metal bat swing' coming out of college. When you're swinging wood, you just immediately think you've got to swing harder, and that gets you in trouble. This past season I worked a lot on my swing, and I got it to where I had that short quick swing, which is a lot more effective, but I'm trying to be more consistent with that."

Year

Team

AVG.

AB

H

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

K

OBP

SLG

2003

Auburn

.278

248

69

8

36

52

7

35

63

.374

.440

2004

Dunedin

.239

205

49

7

25

29

0

36

51

.350

.356

2004

Charleston

.283

226

64

13

39

38

0

55

50

.440

.496

2005

Dunedin

.287

164

47

9

35

33

6

24

27

.380

.506

2005

New Hampshire

.272

338

92

15

44

54

5

55

94

.379

.479



Batting and Power Description: Roberts does have plus power, and has proven he can hit the long ball. Roberts exhibits good opposite-field power and has a good eye at the plate. He will always post a solid on-base percentage, however, was a little anxious during his stint with the Fisher Cats, and as a result struck out at a high rate. Some talent evaluators question if he can maintain his power against polished pitchers, and as a result they don’t rank Roberts among the top tiered players. Regardless, the infielder possesses a solid bat, and has experience in two different positions, making him a valuable commodity.

Base Running and Speed Description: Roberts has above-average speed when he is running the base paths, however, has yet to master the art of the steal in professional baseball. The Jays have spent time working with Roberts to help him study and recognize pitchers and their moves to first and home, as well as his footwork during his first and secondary leads. Roberts must first gain confidence in himself and become aggressive before the stolen base numbers will begin to show up in professional baseball.

Defense: Let’s keep in mind Roberts was drafted as a third baseman and was recently converted to second base – a position he rarely played before. Roberts is athletic enough to handle the position and has the toughness to turn the double plays. His range is questioned by some talent evaluators, as is his lack of an accurate arm.

2006 Outlook: Roberts should begin the 2006 season with the Syracuse SkyChiefs. He is not getting any younger and has nothing left to prove at the Double-A level. The 2006 season will be the biggest test of his career, and perhaps the season that will tell us all about this infielder.

ETA: Roberts turned twenty-five years old in September, and time is not on his side. We project him making an appearance in the major leagues by late 2006-2007.


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