#23: Robbie Shields Scouting Report

Shields had a good, late showing after elbow rehab

2009 third round pick Robbie Shields had a second season few players should ever go through. Rather than rebound from a disappointing debut season, Shields spent most of 2010 rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. However, he still put together a positive performance in his limited time. Look inside for an exclusive Q&A with Shields and a scouting report detailing his game.

Vital Statistics
Name: Robbie Shields
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 195
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Status: 3rd Round (2009) – Florida Southern

InsidePitchMagazine.com: You had a year that included a lengthy rehab period followed by extended stint in the Gulf Coast League before going to Savannah. All in all, what do you think about the year you had?

Robbie Shields: I was doing everything I could to get back on the field. I feel like I had a good year in Savannah, which made me feel better after a disastrous season in Brooklyn. It was a long year because I had the whole rehab process to go through and I missed just about 100 games, not including playing in the Gulf Coast League because that was just extended rehab. I feel like I had a good year in Savannah. I enjoyed my time up there and pleased with what I was able to do in Savannah.

Inside Pitch: Coming back from Tommy John surgery is a lot different for a position player than a pitcher. What were some of the hurdles you faced while working your way back? Was there anything that may have been surprising during your rehab?

Shields: I just think it was hard because I've never met any other shortstops who've had Tommy John surgery. I felt like I was kind of a guinea pig in a way. I didn't really know what to expect or whether or not my arm would still bother me - which it didn't. My arm actually felt great. I did whatever I could to get back to the field as quick as possible. I felt like I got back pretty quick. It took me only about eight and a half months because I was working so hard.

Inside Pitch: Did you ever feel tentative about the elbow, that maybe it wouldn't come back to full strength?

Shields: It felt fine. I trusted the doctors and the trainers that were working with me. They were telling me how far and what percent I could throw at. I trusted them, went out and did what I had to do and never felt any pain or had any setbacks. It felt like the arm strength didn't come all the way back until about a year after the procedure, but once it did, it came back quickly and I haven't had any problems since.

Inside Pitch: When you finally got to Savannah, was it a comfortable transition? Did it take any time to get into a rhythm or did your rehab stint in the Gulf Coast League take care of that?

Shields: It was good to get out of the whole rehab month in Florida. I felt up to Lexington (Kentucky) for my first game and the first 10 days or two weeks was kind of slow, but I had fun once I got comfortable with everybody and playing again at a higher level.

Inside Pitch: In the time you had, whether rehabbing or in Savannah, were you able to work on and progress in a specific area of your game? Or, was it a matter of just playing loose and getting your stride back?

Shields: I wanted to hit a whole lot better than I did in Brooklyn and I feel like I did that. In my first year, it was my arm issues and I went to New York and I put a lot more pressure on myself. In my second year, I feel like what I went through (in 2009) helped me this past year because I've been through that. I feel like I got comfortable really quick and so I started to really enjoy playing every day and being around the club.

I don't know my exact numbers in Brooklyn, but I know they weren't good and it was a brutal season. Everyone who plays the game knows you never want a season like that, especially in your first year after getting draft. I ended up hitting in .290 in Savannah and that's good step. Some of the changes were from a few things in my approach, but it was mostly just a comfort level. I played for Pedro Lopez the year before. I did what he expected and I enjoyed the team and the atmosphere.

Inside Pitch: You spent most of your time in Savannah as a designated hitter rather than at shortstop. Did you have an itch to get on the field though you know you couldn't?

Shields: I wanted to play shortstop every day, but the doctors wouldn't let that happen. Like I said, I was still something of a guinea pig because so few shortstops have had Tommy John surgery. They were just trying to take it easy on me, and I respect that and their decision to look out for me. It was just good to get at-bats, at least to DH, so I could get into a rhythm even if it meant limited time at shortstop.

Inside Pitch: But you did get to see time at shortstop during the Instructional League. What was your time like there?

Shields: We were alternating there, and though the playing time moved around I got a good amount of time at shortstop, playing every day at some point. I got a lot of at-bats and obviously I played shortstop for four or five innings or a whole game. I got a lot of good work in down there, offensively and defensively.

Inside Pitch: Lastly, you will be getting ready for the new season. Is there anything you will focus on during the winter? Any more attention needed on the elbow?

Shields: The elbow is 100 percent clear and ready to go with no issues at all. I'm just getting ready to go. I'm working on some agility stuff and putting on some weight. This will be the first time playing a full season every day. I wanted to build up my strength and add some weight so I won't break down or miss any time at all if I can help it.

Year

Team

AVG.

AB

Hits

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

K

OBP

SLG

2010

Savannah

.290

162

47

5

26

26

4

10

34

.331

.457

2010

Gulf Coast League

.244

82

20

1

7

11

3

11

10

.330

.341

2009

Brooklyn

.178

146

26

1

9

14

2

16

32

.273

.267



Batting and Power: In his limited time, Shields demonstrated projectable tools that give him the look of a sound offensive prospect. Notably, he improved on the inner half which led to Shields pulling the ball with more authority. He possesses limited home run power and he could reach double digit totals when he is all the way back. Instead, his strong suit lies in hitting his way on base and finding the outfield gaps.

Mechanically, he has a smooth swing with quick hands, keeping him true through the ball. His bat speed improved this year now that his elbow is healthy following Tommy John surgery and his arms can stay strong on the bat. Shields' 2010 numbers were positive, but carry only limited weight. A full season in 2011 will offer a clearer picture about where he is headed at the plate.

Base and Running Speed: Though a middle infielder, Shields has just average speed. Stolen bases are not a significant part of his game. He continues to work on footwork and technique around the bags, but that is to improve upon limited speed. He may swipe a small collection of bags of the course of a season.

Defense: Shields struggled in the field in 2009 with much of it having mechanical trouble due to his elbow. In 2010, Shields strictly served as a designated hitter under doctor's orders, only receiving time in the field during the Instructional League season. He is an above-average defender with improving lateral movement. However, his arm strength is also average which is likely to open the door for Shields to see time at second base as well. He transfers the ball quickly with a sharp release, but it comes down to arm strength. Seeing additional time at other infield positions will also improve his overall value.

Projection: Shields took a good step forward after a disappointing rookie season in 2009 and missing a significant part of 2010. He will go to the Florida State League at 23 years old and comparatively little playing time. He faces a potentially testy transition to High-A next season, but Shields is a polished player with sound tools a maturity for the game. He needs to regain his rhythm and timing for the game, before that Shields projects best as a utility infielder without enough bat that will play on NL teams. He faces stiff competition in the system by players of similar age and greater experience, making for a pivotal season in 2011 though that may seem unfair given his rehab from Tommy John surgery.

ETA: 2013. As stated, Shields will likely be off to St. Lucie next season, hoping to play his first full season of professional ball. It has been two years in the organization, but limited playing time makes it difficult to project him getting to New York before another two seasons of development.

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