The Astros took an interesting approach in deciding which pitchers to send to the Arizona Fall League. In the long run, I think it will be beneficial to the organization. At the very least, it follows the plan that was instituted this season for Houston’s starting pitchers.
Innings limits will be watched closely, and workloads will be monitored. There was a clean plan established this year for the Astros’ minor league pitchers, and I think it worked out pretty well. Young pitchers had success, and injuries were avoided.
I know the Arizona Fall League is where you send your top prospects to see how they can do against top competition, but for pitchers, I am undecided on the value in it. Why extend their arms and put them into stressful game situations after being off from game situations for more than a month?
For that reason, I agree with the Astros sending some minor league relievers to Peoria instead of their top pitching prospects. One of those pitchers is 25-year old Andrew Robinson.
Robinson was selected by the Astros in the 12th round of the 2010 draft out of Georgia Tech. For his first two professional seasons, the right-hander was a starter without much success. In 2011, Robinson made 21 starts for High-A Lancaster and registered a 6.29 ERA.
For 2012, Robinson stayed at Lancaster and had some success pitching out of the bullpen. In 44 games, he logged in 60.1 innings and had a 4.33 ERA with a 1.33 WHIP and 74 strikeouts.
This season, Robinson was promoted to AA Corpus Christi and saw both his ERA and WHIP fall (to 3.28 and 1.24 respectively) while striking out 37 batters in 49.1 innings.
I’m not sure that the Astros are thinking of Robinson as a candidate to start the season in the 2014 bullpen, but with a strong performance for Peoria, he might be able to pitch himself into that conversation and become a candidate for later in the season.