Scouting Mets Prospect #27: Robbie Shields

Numbers didn't tell the whole story for Shields

The New York Mets made Robbie Shields their second overall pick in the 2009 draft. It was not quite the first season the shortstop anticipated when he arrived in Brooklyn, but Shields persevered through the New York-Penn League. Unfortunately, his season on a sour note when it was learned he would undergo elbow surgery. What tools will help him bounce back quicker? Look inside to find out.

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Vital Statistics
Name: Robbie Shields
DOB: December 12, 1987
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 195
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Status: 3rd Round (2009) – Florida Southern

The Mets reached up the west coast of Florida when they selected shortstop Robbie Shields out of Florida Southern College. Following an impressive stint in the Cape Cod League in 2008 and a strong junior collegiate season, Shields firmly landed on the organization's radar. Upon his selection, the Mets envisioned Shields holding down the shortstop position in Brooklyn. That's exactly what he did, but Shields struggled with the Cyclones.

Recent top position players have struggled offensively in Brooklyn and it was no different with Shields. He was an everyday player, but never found an offensive rhythm. In 44 games, Shields hit just .178 with one home run and nine RBI, walking 16 times in 146 at-bats. Statistically, it was not the debut summer he hoped for, but Shields used it as a lesson to adapt to professional ball.

"The pitching at this level was really good. They throw a bunch of pitches and a number of pitches for strikes. But I really think, more than anything, it was the adjustment to pro ball," he explained. "I can't really pinpoint anything mechanical or otherwise that was different. Of course I worked on different things every day, but the consistency just didn't come together liked I wanted it to."

Pedro Lopez, who managed the Cyclones in 2009, saw his shortstop give the consistent, dedicated effort on a daily basis that made him such an enticing open in the draft. But Lopez did not concern himself with numbers.

"I had to give Robbie the benefit of the doubt," said Lopez. "I had to because, despite all the numbers, he put up good numbers throughout his college career. Also, not starting his professional career the way he would have liked to, I thought that got to his head a little bit but I think he'll be ok."

Compared to the rest of his summer, Shields offense did pick up towards the end of the season. Unfortunately, elbow trouble that afflicted him late in the season at Florida Southern and throughout the summer became a major issue right after the New York-Penn League season ended.

A slight tear in the UCL ligament in his elbow led of Tommy John surgery in late October which threw a wrench in his off-season plans and his start date in 2010. It was certainly not the end Shields desired, but he is doing his best to remain positive and look ahead to his return.

"I had a partial tear in my UCL and I played a lot of the season through it," he said. "It's definitely a tough situation to deal with after my first season, but I'm going to rehab as fast as possible so I can get back on the field and get back to playing like I know I'm capable of."

Year

Team

AVG.

AB

Hits

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

K

OBP

SLG

2009

Brooklyn

.178

146

26

1

9

14

2

16

32

.273

.267



Batting and Power: Shields did not demonstrate much power during his first season, but the ball does jump off his bat with extra base power to all fields. However, to this point, his home run power is exclusively to the pull side. He has an easy swing that does not have many moving parts and he has quick hands to get the bat on the ball. He stays centered through the ball and does not shift his weight through his swing.

He demonstrated good bat speed as he extends his arm through the swing and makes solid contact with the heart of the barrel. He gets good backspin and carry, but his raw power has yet to translate to game action. He was very measured in his approach with Brooklyn so that he would not overextend himself or try to do too much. At times he was beat on the inner third which is an adjustment he will have to make in the future.

Base Running and Speed: Though his frame and build have the look of speedster, speed is not a significant part of Shields' game. He lacks the first step to be an effective stolen base threat and foot speed when underway on the bases is average. He stole just two bases with Brooklyn, but better reads should allow him to incrementally increase that number in the future.

Defense: The Mets selected Shields as a shortstop, but his long term projection is as a utility fielder who can comfortably shift to second base, third base and the outfield if necessary. The organization will stick with him as a shortstop for now, but at the highest level he would looked upon as a shortstop only when needed. He moves better to the glove side and cleanly fields what is hit at him. He has work to do with his footwork and throwing mechanics, but he transfers the ball well with a quick release and hits the target area with his throws.

Projection: Shields was a safe, high-character pick who is a gamer and willing to push himself as hard as possible to succeed. He is a dedicated worker who understands when and how adjustments need to be made. Further game action will improve his baseball instincts, but the attitude he brings to the field everyday will keep him in contention as he moves up. His defensive skills project him best as a utility player in the mold of Mark DeRosa, but his offense will have to play a significant part of his move up the ladder. His ultimate value will be reached if he can make the likely move to second base in the future, but rehab from Tommy John surgery is always a variable that can change plans.

ETA: 2013. The timing of his Tommy John surgery came at the worst possible time as it in all likelihood knocked him out for much of, if not all of, 2010. If he does make it back for any amount of time next season, it will like be in Savannah, but St. Lucie is certainly an option as the organization may keep him close to the complex to monitor his progress. Given the surgery, even the most aggressive of predictions does not have him in New York until sometime in late 2013.

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