|Hansel Robles throws a bullpen session during a perfect day in Port St. Lucie. Photo: Stephen Guilbert|
While fans closely followed every movement of Harvey and Syndergaard, the crowd completely dispersed once they had finished--following the two phenoms to a larger practice field where they would later throw live batting practice. In fact, just Preston, my long time friend and current Port St. Lucie native, and I stayed. In the meantime, Robles began warming up where Harvey and Syndergaard had just been throwing.
Robles did some drills I had never seen before. He threw without use of his lower body with his torso facing home plate, then moved well behind the mound and threw to his catcher with his body at a perpendicular angle to the plate. He did all of this with great velocity and his upper body mimicking a real pitch. The exercises were fascinating--I think they might have to do with upper body warmup, release point consistency, and body control, though someone with better experience could probably tell us better.
|One of the throwing drills Robles completed before his bullpen session. Photo: Stephen Guilbert|
Then he began throwing full windup and stretch windup pitches and the reaction I had to those pitches was the same when I saw Robles nearly throw a no-hitter for Brooklyn back in 2012--he is simply an electric pitcher.
While the Mets converted him to a relief role this past season and his future is in the bullpen, I cannot help but get excited about Robles. His arm strength is so good, his slider seems to flutter like a magician is controlling it, and his athleticism is impressive by any standard. In fact, since his bullpen was delayed a bit, he didn't reach his running drills until after his group had already ran. The coaches waited and Robles did not disappoint. In the wind sprints portion, a coach let out an audible "woop!" in encouragement for the effort Robles was putting in. And he was moving fast--not by a pitcher's standards--for any baseball player. He nearly tripped himself up from coming off the line so quickly.
Side note: As a fan, moments like this were very cool--I did not see Robles coming behind me while I was watching Steven Matz, Jacob deGrom and Cody Satterwhite do their running drills. By the time he was next to me, I instinctively blurted out "That was some nice throwing back there". To my surprise, Robles smiled and responded with a polite, "Thank you", as if he didn't realize anyone had actually seen it.
I have no idea what the future holds for this young man. He is older for a prospect, is already a converted starter-to-reliever, and faces an uphill battle in breaking into a team that has no shortage of young righties just like him--athletic, big fastballs, good pure 'stuff'. However, this is not the first time Hansel Robles has made my jaw drop with his stuff. I do hope the conversion to a relief role proves beneficial to him because I really like this guy.
Next up: David Wright is the New York Mets, and why.