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The View From Behind the Backstop: Hansel Robles

In which we try to determine exactly how hot Hansel is right now.

Gordon Donovan

Hansel Robles

RHP, Binghamton Mets (AA)

5'11", 185

2014 prospect ranking: N/A

2013 prospect ranking: #28

Age (2014 season age): 23

Acquired: International free agent, 2008

Date(s) seen: 4/13/14 @ New Hampshire Fisher Cats: 5 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 K

2014 so far: 2 G, 10 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 14 K

The short of it: You could probably just read my last Robles report, not much has changed. But then, I guess that's not very short.

The long of it: Robles has tweaked his mechanics some since I saw him in Brooklyn. The arm action isn't quite as violent, and there's less forearm recoil, although it's still pretty high effort. He's also lands less stiffly on his landing leg, there's a bit more knee bend, and a bit better extension. The whole delivery in general seems to have a slower rhythm to it. Robles is also heavier than his listed weight. He was always stocky, but now he's...significantly stocky. He's still athletic for his size though. Stuff is roughly the same, though he didn't have the 94-95 mph fastball that he would occasionally show in Brooklyn. Reports on his velocity were all over the place in St. Lucie and he battled some injury issues last year as well. Wouldn't be shocked if between that and the mechanical tweaks, 90-92, touching 93 is the new normal for him. He can be successful at that velocity. It's still a low arm angle that is tough on right-handed hitters. And when he was going good, it was 92-93 with late armside life up in the zone. He was down to 88-90 by the third inning, but he was still throwing it by guys.

Robles was much less slider-heavy this year than he has been in my previous looks. He didn't have much feel for it early, but broke off a nice one later in the start. It's still in the mid-80s and still a below-average pitch. He offered a couple of firm change-ups as well. The arm action is very long and Robles would occasionally have issues finishing the delivery. There were some instances where he'd miss up-and-armside and then overcompensate by holding on to the ball a bit too firmly and miss gloveside-and-down. Even with the delivery tweaks, the command is still fringy, and Robles was 'wild in the zone' for much of his start. The New Hampshire lineup just couldn't do anything with the fatter fastballs. Like Lara, it's a fringy profile as a starter. There's not enough velocity here anymore and the secondaries haven't improved. Both show high effort mechanics that are probably better suited to the bullpen. Robles is likely the better relief candidate, as he's shown 94-95 in the past. And even if he just maintains his velocity better in short stints, Lara's would need to tick up to get there.

The optimistic projection: Solid, but unspectacular middle reliever who is particularly tough on righties.

The pessimistic projection: Like so many other pitchers, fastball command is the undoing here. Gets to the majors, but gets hit hard there.

What to look for during the rest of the 2014 season: Can he develop more consistency with the slider? Does the fastball velocity stabilize in warmer weather?