Robbie Erlin is one of the most intriguing prospects in the Padres organization. Ever since he was acquired with Joe Wieland in the Mike Adams trade, Erlin has ranked as one of the top prospects in all of the Padres system. 2012 was a bit of a frustrating year for the young left-hander, as he battled injuries for much of the year, starting just 11 games for the San Antonio Missions. Erlin reflected on the frustration on his 2012 campaign:
“The injuries were very frustrating last year. I tried to focus on getting the treatment I needed. I tried to keep my sanity by helping out the team in any way that I could. I made sure to also adhere to the throwing program I was on, to make sure that I could pitch again as soon as possible.”
While Erlin did not pitch as much as he would have liked in 2012, he did work on his craft, implementing some changes to his delivery, in order to keep hitters off-balance.
“Tim Worrell(Padres rehab pitching coach in Peoria) made the suggestion that I speed up my delivery, in order to keep hitters off-balance and give them less time to react. More than anything, I just want to stay healthy for the upcoming season.”
The Padres have former pitchers all over their organization and Erlin explained how beneficial it is to have a manager in Bud Black at the big-league level.
“I got to work with Bud Black a little bit last spring. It was definitely a great experience and I tried to absorb as much knowledge as I could from him. The Padres organization has a lot of great coaches and everyone I worked with has been tremendous. I really enjoyed working with Jimmy Jones(current San Antonio pitching coach) when I came over here from Texas. He just showed a lot of confidence in me and just let me go out and pitch.”
Erlin has posted some ridiculous numbers in his young career. In 2012, he went 3-1, with a 2.92 ERA. However, Erlin’s command is what has separated him from many young pitchers. In Erlin’s minor league career he has struck out 368 batters and walked just 50 in 326 career innings. His astounding command has drawn comparisons to Cliff Lee. Erlin will not allow such comparisons to effect him.
“Its cool to be compared to such a great pitcher, but I haven’t done anything yet. Obviously some of the similarities between him and I is that we both throw strikes. I always try and challenge hitters and I hate giving up walks. I am just focused on working hard and getting to the big leagues.”
Erlin also opened some eyes in the organization and around baseball with his outstanding performance in the Arizona Fall League — the yearly showcase of some of the best young talent in all of baseball. Erlin showed he belonged, pitching to a 2.28 ERA in 23.2 innings. He struck out 31 batters and walked just six, showing his remarkable consistency.
“I was really glad that I was able to pitching the AFL. It was awesome. The competition was the best I have ever seen. All of the hitters were really solid. Our team played well and ended up winning the championship. Overall, it was just an amazing experience.”
As the 2013 season approaches, Erlin reflected on what he must to, in order to achieve his ultimate goal. The Padres used 15 different starters in 2012, but Erlin insisted that his approach will not change.
“I just need to do everything I can to be ready for the season. I plan on staying on the programs I have been on and I plan on picking the brains of the coaching staff in Spring Training. I think changing my approach would not be conducive to me potentially making the club.
Erlin is a great guy and has a bright future ahead of him. His numbers speak for themselves and he is easily the most polished starting pitcher in the Padres system. Erlin should see San Diego at some point in 2013.