When I met Andrew Robinson earlier this month in Lancaster, I hadn't seen him pitch yet. Later that evening I would not only get to see him pitch, I would get to see him dominate High Desert. He was pressed into service to pitch three innings in what would turn out to be an extra inning affair. In three innings, he gave up zero hits, zero runs, one walk and struck out seven. He ended up getting the win, and it was well-deserved.
Robinson caught my attention earlier this season. After a simply awful April, he made some adjustments and he got better and better and better as the season progressed. In his last ten games, he has a 1.26 ERA, a 0.628 WHIP, 14.4 SO/9 and a 0.91 batting average against.
Pitching Coach Don Alexander was very complimentary of Robinson's work this season, "From start to where we are now, he might have made the most progress of anybody. This kid's really come on." Alexander stressed that Robinson had worked hard at making adjustments early in the season and the results have been impressive, including a nice bump in velocity. "He's done the work and he's earned every bit of what he's getting right now."
On to the interview ~
On his pitch arsenal: "I throw a 2-seam fastball most of the time. I throw a 4-seam every once in a while and a curveball is my main secondary pitch, and then a changeup I throw every once in a while. The curveball is kind of my go to out pitch. Beginning of the year, I was more like 89, 91 but now lately I've been sitting around 93, 94. I've actually hit 97 a few times. I don't know where that came from. Mostly I've just been around 93, 94."
On what he's accomplished this season: "I think I made a big stride this year. I think I got a lot better. A lot of it was the mechanics change that I had, that I actually made after the first month. Right now, I'm still struggling to get that perfect and I'm having trouble getting the ball down a little bit more consistently. I just think I need to get more consistent with keeping the ball down, but once I get there I think it would be good."
On his pitching role [note that he was used extensively as a starter in 2011]: "I think I'll be a bullpen guy. I don't make those decisions, but I think I'm better out of the bullpen. I think I've shown that a little bit this year. I've done a little bit of everything this year. Lately I've been kind of late in the game, throwing 8th and 9th, around there. And I've really enjoyed it."
Which Astros pitcher has a pitch he'd like to steal?: "I might have to say Cisnero's fastball because people swing through that thing like I've never seen before. He throws it up there, I don't know how hard he's throwing it this year, but last year it was low to mid 90's and people just swing right through it. I think he has one of the more impressive fastballs."
What would he do if he couldn't play baseball?: "I finished school this past semester in the off-season. I graduated from Georgia Tech. I got a business administration degree with a finance concentration so I probably would want to do something along the lines of financial advisor or work for a hedge fund as some sort of analyst, something like that, but hopefully I won't have to do that for a while."
On what most people don't know about him: "I'm a big nerd. I like Apple products, big Apple product fan. I wach the blog on the Worldwide Developers Conference every year for when they announce their products and stuff like that. I'm always looking at rumors for the new I-Phones. I'm a nerd. Big Harry Potter fan." [If Harry Potter makes you a nerd, I must be one too.]
On the changes in the Astros system: "I'm actually really excited about it. How can I put this? Last year we were not very good as a team. Our record was not very good and it was not fun. This year's been a lot of fun. We're winning. We're in the playoff hunt and I think it's just going to continue being like that. We made a lot of trades, got a lot more guys that are better players and I think I'm going to enjoy that because we're going to be good so I'm excited. The guys I've met have been great and I really like everybody so we'll see where that goes."
When Robinson told me that he'd touched 97 a few times this season, he seemed almost bewildered that he'd been able to do that. I told him that whatever he was doing to get that velocity, he needed to keep doing it. I may want to hire him as a financial advisor, but not quite yet.