Thursday, February 6, 2014

Sam Roberts: Byron Buxton's kryptonite

           (Photo Courtesy: Bill Seals) 

Who is Sam Roberts you ask? All things considered, the VMI alumni and former 26th rounder from the 2011 Draft proceedings has persisted as a relatively anonymous name within the Athletics organization, featuring as a middle infield/utility reserve infielder throughout his tenure whose most admirable characteristics have been his plate discipline and versatility. Between just north of 430 professional plate appearances, Sam Roberts wields a ghastly .215/.336/.300 slash with a career 69:102 BB/K after having now spent his first genuinely full Midwest League campaign with Beloit after a brief Burlington stint out of extended spring training in 2012. He did have somewhat of a legitimate April of this past season, with a .222/.391/.407 line (15:16 BB/K) that made him one of the more intriguing candidates for a breakthrough season, which unfortunately did not come to fruition.

 This is not why Roberts is notable though for the A's, rather it's because Sam Roberts does nothing but neutralize top prospects on the mound. Yes, that's right, Sam Roberts has three innings of professional pitching experience to his credit, between a July 17th, 2012 appearance in an 18 inning game for Vermont and performances of May 12th and August 1st of this past year. Boasting a line of 3 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 BB and 2 K, it seems like just slightly above average position player pitching production, but oh no...  Sam Roberts has struck Byron Buxton out swinging. Yes, let that soak in. Sam Roberts struck out baseball's next prodigy. If you're interested, the game occurred on May 12th of 2013 in a 23-16 final score, Roberts pitched the 9th and, to reiterate, *struck Byron Buxton out swinging* to end the inning. Think his pitching exploits end there? Nope, he also has struck out Danry Vasquez, one of Houston's top prospects, swinging as well. I conclude that Roberts is baseball's first TPOOGY (Top prospect one out guy). 

Albeit, Roberts does have an extensive pitching résumé to his credit, making 28 appearances (18 starts) on the mound for VMI during his upperclassman stint and serviced as the squad's closer in 2009 as a sophomore. However, the A's organization felt it fitting that Roberts pursue a positional post instead and has since been utilized specifically at 2B/SS, which he additionally partook in at VMI, participating within 194 consecutive contests to conclude his collegiate career. Additionally, Roberts possesses favorable genetics, with his youngest brother, Jack, starring as one of Virginia's top prospects for the Cavaliers and is accompanied by another sibling, Will, who was a 2013 AZFL participant and previously pitched at AA Akron. Another one, Michael, has since departed the minor league ranks, but previously was housed as a catcher within Milwaukee's system. Ultimately though, while John Samuel Roberts may realistically never don a major league uniform, he can at least state that he's unhittable when facing Byron Buxton. Byron will never be able to say that he can touch Roberts' high 80's heat. 

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