In the dead of the San Antonio summer, with the daytime temperature soaring towards triple digits, Robbie Erlin made his debut in the Padres organization. As he pushed through the scorching Texas heat just waiting for the Texas sun to fall below the horizon, Erlin managed six scoreless innings against Corpus Christi. He gave up five hits, one walk, and struck out six before being lifted in a scoreless game. Erlin impressed in his very first start as a member of the Padres Minor League system courtesy of the Mike Adams trade to the Texas Rangers.
Robbie Erlin’s journey, one that took him from Scotts Valley High School in California to the Arizona Rookie League to Hickory, North Carolina and finally to San Antonio, has been a quick one. Erlin was regarded as just the 155th best prospect prior to the draft in 2009. Since then, he has shot up on everyone’s radar and made number 11 overall according to our friends at Seedlings to Stars. Erlin looks to make his move up to Triple-A Tucson starting next season, and projects to make the big league roster by late 2012 if all things go well.
Perhaps the biggest compliment paid to Erlin by Seedlings in their scouting report is his comparison to Cliff Lee:
In a lot of ways, Erlin’s a Cliff Lee sort of pitcher–he relentlessly pounds the strike zone, but he’s got enough deception and movement to rack up plenty of swinging strikes in the zone, and his command is so good that he gets an above-average number of called strikes three. It’s quite ambitious to expect him to become Lee, but he could become a Lee knockoff, which is good enough to be a very good #2 starter.
Quite the praise for a 21-year old pitcher who still has a lot to prove. Yet, Erlin seems to continue to earn his accolades. In six games with the San Antonio Missions, Erlin managed a 1.38 ERA, but a surprisingly high 1.154 WHIP. The WHIP is due in large part to the number of hits Erlin gave up. He gave up exactly 26 hits in 26 innings. However, more encouraging was his walk rate in the short stint with San Antonio. Erlin only walked 4 batters in those 26 innings.
While on the short side, Erlin’s mechanics look sound as evidenced by this video courtesy of YouTube. (Erlin is on the left)
Erlin’s success at the major League level will depend on his ability to reduce his hit rate, keep his walks low, and keep the ball in the park. So far, Erlin has shown advanced ability for his age and figures to be a key fixture in the Padres rotation very soon. While most rankings do not project Erlin as an ace, many seem to believe he can be a solid number two.
If Erlin makes his debut with San Diego in 2012, it will have only taken him three years to go from High School ball in California to the Major Leagues in California. And Padres fans can’t wait.
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