(Dunedin, Florida) - When Langley, B.C. native RHP Tom Robson heard his name called in the 4th round of the 2011 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, many locally assumed it would just be a matter of time before the lanky, 6-foot, 4-inch right-hander would become a future Toronto Blue Jays arm.
He followed in the footsteps locally of names like Rich Harden (Oakland), Adam Loewen (Baltimore) and Jeff Francis (Colorado) so the expectation of becoming the next big thing probably carried with it some added pressure.
Now the pressure shifts as Robson enters his 6th season within the Blue Jays Minor League system having never advanced past Class-A Dunedin. Previously riddled with injuries, Robson's greatest moment to date was likely helping the Vancouver Canadians secure a third straight Northwest League Championship back in 2013 when he led Vancouver's pitching staff to a series victory over the offensively gifted Boise Hawks who have a number of players currently on the Chicago Cubs World Series Championship roster.
The potential has always been there, but now the pressure of having to show he is both recovered from a Tommy John surgery, and that he is still ready to ascend quickly now that he is suddenly 23-years old.
Last season (2016), Robson split time between Dunedin (Advanced-A) and Lansing (Midwest-A) going 1-2 with a 6.48 ERA and 0-4 with a 7.50 ERA respectively.
Not many were overly concerned based on his slow recovery from arm surgery, but this spring, Robson knows the clock is ticking and that his health and ability to make a name for himself is of the utmost importance. He was able to manage 70 2/3 innings last season, and knows that number will have to rise if the Blue Jays are to remain interested.
It's one thing to have these concerns and be 20-years old. It's another when you have these issues and you are now into your sixth season. Baseball can be a cruel mistress at times and Robson, whether he admits it or not, must know the clock is ticking for him to re-establish himself as one of the Blue Jays top prospects like he was back in 2014 coming off of his season here in Vancouver.
Currently Robson is not on anyone's Top Prospects list after reaching as high as #5 just a few seasons ago before the injury bug bit.
The bright spot?
Robson's personality almost deflects articles like this one as he simply focuses on returning to his old form. His velocity was 93-95mph here in Vancouver, and his ability to pitch in big games made him a fan favourite regardless of his passport.
But beneath the smile, a concern must loom as for Robson -- the future simply has to be 'now'. The peril of Minor League Baseball comes in the fact that come June, another crop of wide-eyed pitchers will have their names called and report to Blue Jays camp wondering where they can find a home. One day you are the king of the proverbial castle, the next day you're fending off an attack from those on the outside of the walls. The enemy with the biggest weapon in this fight?
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.