Austin Roberts

AUSTIN ROBERTS, RIGHT HANDED PITCHER
Born: July 27, 1998
Height: 6’0″
Weight: 219
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Drafted: 8th Round, 244th Overall, 2019
How Acquired: Draft
College: Sacramento State
Agent: N/A

WTM’s PLAYER PROFILE

Roberts served as a swing man at Sacramento State, but his stuff likely will play better in the bullpen and the Pirates aren’t fond of short starting pitchers.  His fastball edges into the mid-90s with sink, and he has a plus slider.  Command may be an issue, which also points to the bullpen.  As a freshman, Roberts was mainly a starter and had an ERA of 4.95 with nearly as many walks as strikeouts.  He pitched mostly in relief as a sophomore and cut the ERA to 1.83 with a strikeout per inning and a dramatically lower walk rate.  He divided his time as a junior between starting and relief, with a 3.18 ERA, and 30 walks and 84 strikeouts in 73.2 IP.  Baseball America rated Roberts 269th in the draft pool and 19th in Northern California.  He signed for $2500 under the slot value.

2019
A-:  2-1-1, 2.70 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 40.0 IP, 2.5 BB/9, 8.6 K/9

Roberts initially pitched in relief for West Virginia and started off with eight scoreless outings.  He moved mostly into a starting role after that.  He was a little less effective as a starter, but not that much less; opponents had a .647 OPS against him as a starter and .560 as a reliever.  Not surprisingly, he missed a lot more bats as a reliever, with a 10.8 K/9 as opposed to 6.9 as a starter.  He held right-handed batters to a .574 OPS, while left-handed batters had a .670 figure.

It’s not clear whether the Pirates gave Roberts time as a starter to get him innings or because they think he can succeed in that role.  He still looks better suited for the bullpen, but the Pirates have often chosen potential low-upside starters over potential higher-upside relievers.  That’s one reason why they’ve had almost no success in developing relievers under the current front office.

CONTRACT INFORMATION
2020: Minor league contract
PLAYER INFORMATION
Signing Bonus: $166,000
MiLB Debut: 2019
MLB Debut:
MiLB FA Eligible: 2025
MLB FA Eligible:
Rule 5 Eligible: 2022
Added to 40-Man:
Options Remaining: 3
MLB Service Time: 0.000
TRANSACTIONS
June 4, 2019: Drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 8th round, 244th overall pick; signed on June 11.