Blue Jays: Intriguing prospect Sem Robberse impresses in 2023 debut for New Hampshire
The Blue Jays' Double-A affiliate New Hampshire Fisher Cats got their season off on the right foot on Thursday with a big 8-2 win against the Altoona Curve, anchored by top prospect Sem Robberse's stellar outing.
The Jays' No. 7 prospect, per MLB Pipeline, baffled the Pirates' minor league players through 4.2 innings of work, picking up eight strikeouts on 75 pitches. He scattered four hits, including a solo home run, and worked around a pair of walks and a hit batter.
Despite the free passes, Robberse was all around the plate, throwing 49 strikes and using his full repertoire to keep hitters off balance. He piled up both called and swinging strikes with his slider, changeup and fastball, which was up to 92 mph.
After a clean first inning, which included his first strikeout, he saw some adversity in the second frame. After his team staked him to a 3-0 lead, he gave up a solo shot, followed by a single and a walk but got out of the situation with another punch out to end the threat.
That would be the only run he would allow, as he set it on cruise control for the next three innings, recording six more strikeouts and stranding a couple of singles before being pulled with two out in the fifth, most likely due to pitch count.
The 21-year-old comes into the season needing to improve on last year's short stint in Double-A. In five starts with the Fisher Cats in 2022, he posted a 3.65 ERA, a 1.18 WHIP and 6.93 K/9. Aside from his final start, in which he logged nine strikeouts, it looked like he needed time to adjust to the new level.
Robberse has the physical and mental tools to succeed, and this first start of 2023 is a step in the right direction as he looks to continue his rise through the organization.