I had the good fortune to take in a game at the lovely Banner Island Ballpark a couple weeks ago. My goal was to get footage on Oakland prospects Daniel Robertson and Chad Pinder. I didn't get enough on Pinder to do much with, but I got a lot of good swings by Robertson. So let's take a look.
Daniel Robertson is the A's 2012 pick in the supplemental first round. Robertson was the A's second shortstop taken that year (Addison Russell). At 6' and 190 lbs. Robertson is currently manning the six at Stockton, but many believe his MLB future is at third. Robertson is ranked as high as second in Oakland's farm system, and his tools grade out as (scale 1-8) according to MLB Prospect Pipeline:
(present/future): Hit: 4/6 | Power: 3/5 | Run: 5/5 | Arm: 5/5 | Field: 4/5 | Overall: 4/5.
So like a lot of the prospects in the farm system, there isn't a ton of projected upside with Robertson, with the bat projecting the highest at a 6. The power is the biggest concern. Below are his minor league stats so far. Robertson's numbers do seem to support the scouting report.
The night I saw him play Robertson went 1-3 with a double, walk, and HBP. Probably his best swing resulted in a deep flyball to right-center that he just got under.
Here is the double. He turned on this pitch and ripped into the left field corner.
Here is the flyball. Just got under it. I put a timer on this one to show that he comes in a 10 frames on 60 fps, so that's good.
It may sound crazy, but I really like to look at how a player takes pitches. It gives me a feel for his sequence in the swing and whether a hitter has too large of a swing commitment to make adjustments. Robertson looks great here. He strides with the front leg closed to keep the lower body from opening too soon. I also like how Robertson keeps his rear leg back to save energy for the rotation (I did a video on this movement here).
You can also get a feel for a hitter in how he takes the bean ball. Robertson wears the pitch OK, but not great. (Just kidding here people.)
I really like Robertson's swing. Of the prospects I have done swing evaluations on (Grant Green, Billy McKinney, Addison Russell, Michael Choice), I would say I like Robertson's swing the best. Actually by quite a bit. Robertson's swing reminds of Buster Posey, both in good and bad ways.
Like Buster Posey, Robertson has just a pinch of rearward upper body tip on his stride, but otherwise very good.
Here is a still at the toe-touch. A few guys can get away with this much tip (Posey, Chris Davis), but I would like to see him straighten it out. It costs him a little on his swing path and rotation, as we shall see next.
Again like Posey, Robertson is a little muted with the rear shoulder (though I prefer Posey's movement). He gets the rear side going just a fraction early (you wouldn't see it at 30 fps). Unlike most A's prospects I have seen, Robertson does have great front shoulder function. The rear side movement is just a little early and a little steep, costing him some depth on his swing path.
Here is the comparison to Posey. See how both guys have the bat so close to the back of the neck. Robertson could gain some power by incorporating the rear shoulder to get a couple inches of wider swing path arc. Below is Josh Donaldson doing the movement I would like to see Robertson get to. See how instead of just "throwing the hands" Donaldson starts the launch with his rear arm and shoulder keeping his hands back just a tick longer. In fact, when I asked Donaldson about this he said "I try to bring my rear shoulder to where I want to hit the ball."
Nothing to complain about here. Great lower body drive getting the front leg locked. The front shoulder has really pulled back and around to get the bat through. Really, really nice.
Like Posey again, Robertson completes his swing with a two hand finish. I don't care that much how hitters finish their swings, but a one-handed finish looks cooler. And looking cool is really the most important thing.
Same offensive production as Buster Posey? Well, I wouldn't say that yet. I would take Posey's swing over Robertson's. Plus Posey has a good 30 lbs. on Robertson, and that means a lot. I would love if Roberston straightened his tip and brought his rear shoulder into his swing. I honestly believe it would be nothing but an improvement in both average and especially power.
I am anxious to see what position he ends up at and if he puts on more weight. Regardless, he is currently the owner of the prestigious Jerry's Top Swing of the Oakland Farm System. So he's got that going for him, which is nice.