Up next on our 2018 MLB Draft profile series is a college pitcher coming off his first year as a starter, Griffin Roberts of Wake Forest.
- Parker Meadows
- Connor Scott
- Steele Walker
- Trevor Larnach
- Nico Hoerner
- Tristian Pompey
- Ethan Hankins
- Ryan Rolison
- Kris Bubic
- Jeremy Eierman
- Brice Turang
- Jameson Hannah
6’3, 210 pounds
DOB: June 13, 1996
Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Slot recommended bonus (No. 30): $2,275,800
Note: All information of draft prospects compiled from Internet sources, scouting reports and video.
Roberts was a reliever for his first two years at Wake Forest. As a freshman, he struggled to find his command, with 22 walks in only 15 2/3 innings pitched. He bounced back as a sophomore, walking only 10 more batters (32) in 53 innings. Roberts was named to the second-team All-ACC team and was drafted in the 29th round by the Twins. Roberts started six games (and had two relief appearances) in the Cape Cod League, and posted a 1.97 ERA with a 35:6 strikeout to walk rate.
Roberts carried that success over to his first season as a starter for Wake Forest. In 14 starts, Roberts posted a 3.82 ERA as the Demon Deacons’ Friday night starter. He tossed 96 2/3 innings, giving him an average of nearly seven innings per start. His K/9 dropped a bit from his previous year as a closer (12.10, as opposed to 13.50), but so too did his BB/9 (3.54, as opposed to 5.40). Despite throwing nearly 50 more innings as a starter, Roberts walked only six more batter than he did in his sophomore year.
Roberts’ delivery is a bit of a question mark. There’s a lot of effort being used in his delivery, and at times he gets inconsistent in his release point. You’ll be able to see that in some of these videos. That could explain the command issues he suffered out of the bullpen. His fastball velocity isn’t anything special, but he already has a plus off-speed pitch. His slider is absolutely filthy, and MLB Pipeline called it the best off-speed pitch in the draft (with a 70 grade). He throws it in the mid-80s and it has some real sharp late break. He’s developing a change-up that he’ll have to get really comfortable with in order to stick as a starter. As a two-pitch pitcher, the bullpen seems like a possible outcome.
Videos courtesy of Baseball America, 2080 Baseball and Jheremy Brown.
There’s a lot to like about Roberts. There’s not a ton of wear-and-tear on his arm, as he’s only been a starter for one year. An over-reliance on a slider might put his health in question at some point, but Roberts has a good body for a pitcher. He’s improved every year and showed a ton of promise as a starter. If his change-up develops, he could become a legit starter in the bigs. If not, his fastball/slider combo should give him the chance to be a great back-of-the-bullpen option. At pick 30, the Dodgers might want to look for a little more of a sure-thing. They’ve built a reputation of being a team to take a chance on a player that’s fallen due to injury (Walker Buehler) or signability (Jeren Kendall) concerns. Roberts would be neither of those things, but the Dodgers could jump on the best off-speed pitch in the draft and hope to build him into a fixture in their rotation.