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Q&A with Rangers 3rd Round Pick Robbie Erlin
The Texas Rangers rounded out their first day of the 2009 MLB Draft by selecting Robbie Erlin, a left-handed pitcher from Scotts Valley High School in Santa Cruz, California.
Erlin is very comparable to Robbie Ross, the Rangers' second-round pick in last year's draft. The southpaw checks in at 5-foot-11, 170-pounds, and he has advanced command of an upper-80s, low-90s fastball.
The 18-year-old will also mix in an advanced curveball, and he has a decent feel for his changeup.
Erlin was drafted by area scout Butch Metzger, who drafted and signed Joe Wieland in the fourth round last summer.
Lone Star Dugout caught up with the hurler shortly after he was drafted on Tuesday evening.
Jason Cole: First off, congratulations on getting drafted. Tell me what's going through your mind right now and what your thoughts are on getting drafted by the Rangers.
Robbie Erlin: I'm very excited. I knew they were pretty high on me all year. I'm just really happy that they took me.
Cole: How much do you know about the Rangers' system or the Major League team? Since you knew they were high on you, did you kind of look them up a little bit?
Erlin: Well, I know that [area scout] Butch [Metzger] came and watched me a lot early on in the year. I think he was pushing pretty hard for me. That had sent a couple of their higher-up guys out to see me. From everything that they were doing and the communications that we had with them, we got to know that they were pretty high on me. One of the highest teams. Actually, probably the highest. Then they took me in the third round.
Cole: At what point did you know that they were going to take you? Did you hear your name called online, or did the Rangers call you beforehand?
Erlin: No, I didn't know. Actually, my advisor called me before I saw it on the computer. Then two minutes after that, Butch called me.
Cole: You mentioned that a couple of the higher-up guys came and saw you play. Who came out?
Erlin: I know [Kevin] Bootay came out. They didn't really say the other guys. They just said they were going to have people come out and see me.
Cole: Were you drafted about where you were expecting to go?
Erlin: I actually thought I was going to slide until tomorrow. I was pretty excited and kind of caught off-guard that they came up and took me that early.
Cole: Were the Rangers one of the teams telling you that you may slide until tomorrow?
Erlin: Yeah. Not as much as some of the other teams. I actually thought there might be a chance that them or one other team might jump up and take me in the third. But I didn't really know for sure. I didn't know what to expect.
Cole: Give me a little scoring report of you on the mound. What's your stuff like, what pitches do you throw, and what speeds to you usually work at with your stuff?
Erlin: My fastball tops at 92 [mph]. I usually work like 89-90 and 91 fairly often. My curveball is about 74, and that's probably my number two pitch. My changeup is anywhere from 77 to 80. I pitch off my fastball and I like all my pitches. I'm confident with all of them. I can throw them in any count, pretty much. That's about it.
Cole: Do you throw both a four-seam fastball and a two-seam?
Cole: Which do you throw most often?
Erlin: The two-seam.
Cole: I know a lot of high school pitchers don't throw their changeup much because it speeds up the bat of high school hitters. Did you throw your changeup much in games?
Erlin: Early on, I did not. But some of the scouts had said that they'd like to see it more, so towards the end of the year, I started mixing it in a little bit more.
Cole: How effective did you feel it was when you did that?
Erlin: It was very effective. I was able to set it up and all that. If I had them looking for a different pitch and I hadn't shown it very much in a game, or if it was a specific batter, then it was just another look. I thought it was pretty effective.
Cole: Assuming you do sign, going into pro ball, is there one part of your game that you're really looking forward to working on with professional coaches?
Erlin: I would say physical development. Because I'm an undersized guy, especially for a pitcher. I'm just excited to work on mechanics with professional pitching coaches and maximize my potential. I want to get bigger and stronger and hopefully add some more velo. And maybe add another pitch. Just development in general.
Cole: You mentioned being an undersized guy. From seeing what scouts have said about you—saying if you were two inches taller you'd be a first-round pick. How do you react to that, and what goes on in your head when you hear those criticisms?
Erlin: I guess I just kind of look at it like it's a business. In that aspect. That's just how it is. I guess I would do that too—I'd go for the big, projectable guys. But I just kind of kept my head on what I wanted to do and I tried to go out there and leave it out on the field. Hopefully I can prove to these guys that size doesn't really matter, and that I'll just do the best I can to get the out and that's what I was able to do this season.
Cole: I'm not sure if Butch talked to you about this, but have you ever heard of Kasey Kiker or Robbie Ross?
Erlin: Yeah, I've heard of Robbie Ross.
Cole: Have you seen yourself compared to him at all?
Erlin: We're pretty much identical.
Cole: Tell me how you feel about your performance as a high school senior this year.
Erlin: I thought it went very well. I knew going in that I'd have to have a big year, and I was able to stay focused and driven. I thought I had a pretty good year. I left it all out on the field every game, and that's what I try to do. I just wanted to go out and throw out the best I could. I can walk away saying that I did that every game.
Cole: I'm sure you had scouts from tons of Major League teams watching you all the time. How was it throwing in front of those scouts every time? Did you feel any pressure from it?
Erlin: No. The first game—it was a little bit new. I only had a half-dozen scouts there. But it didn't affect my mindset and what I was focusing on during the game. I knew that they wanted to come see what I could do, and that's what I focused on doing.
Cole: I've read some things that said you were also an excellent hitter in high school. I believe you hit somewhere around .500 last year. Are you going to miss hitting when you get into pro ball?
Erlin: No. Not really. I don't really stack up to the guys getting drafted and going into pro ball when it comes to offense. I'm just going to do my thing on the hill.
Cole: You've signed a letter of intent with Cal Poly. What led you to choose them?
Erlin: Just their coaching staff. I just really trusted them and they were straight-forward with me, and that's what I was looking for. It was good academically, and academics are a pretty big part. They have been my whole life. So that worked out. And they had the major that I was looking to go into, which is kinesiology. That, and my middle brother—Tom, who is 21—is a pitcher there. He just got done with his first year down there. It attracted me the most.
Cole: It seems like you wouldn't mind going to college if you really had to. Can you talk about the chances of you signing with the Rangers versus going to Cal Poly?
Erlin: I'd say my chances of signing are pretty high. We're going to have to do the negotiations, but it will work out and I want to go and play pro ball and start my career now at 18 as opposed to 21-years-old.
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