The Robert Stock Experiment

The Robert Stock Experiment has progressed to its second year in college and to date it has had mixed results.

Last year Stock wound up hitting .253 on the year after splitting time at catcher. He fluctuated from being the teams #3 hole hitter to being pinch hit for in the later innings. On the mound he had 14 appearances and ended with a 4.55 ERA.

After a lackluster spring he headed to the Cape where he proceeded to start at catcher for the All Star game, yet ended up with a .228 batting average and a 7.88 ERA in 8 innings pitched. Despite this, he ended up as Baseball America's #5 prospect in the cape league.

As for this season, he has started every game behind the dish, is batting .300, and has thrown 3 scoreless innings and struck out 7 in the process. Nice stats, no doubt, but for someone slated to be a 1st rounder in last years draft, they are certainly nothing to brag about.

Anyway, I have seen some videos, linked at the bottom, and I can see why he is a legitimate prospect, but I have no idea how this "experiment" is going to wind up. The talent is there, its obvious, but so far it hasn't been pieced together. What's going to happen to this young man, Baseball American's former Player of the Year?

Throwing a runner out
Getting a hit
Original Post
I suspect that Robert's freshman numbers are related to his youth ... including his summer in the Cape. Here is a young man who is significantly younger than most of his teammates in college and in summer ball ... quite an adjustment, including the number of games played in a season. It is a big jump from high school.

Had Robert been drafted and signed out of high school, after completing his senior season, he would have been placed with other young rookie players in a league where the games are not usually played as intensively as at a D1 competitive program and where he would have received (lots of) attention to his development.

Hopefully he will continue to improve each season and that he will be the adult player that many have come to expect of a young man with all the talent he showed at an early age.
You have to tip your hat to the young man. He has accomplished more than any other player at his age. Will he be another first round pick when the time comes? He probably will ---- but even if he isn’t that in no way would make his past accomplishment less amazing. Whenever we read articles where writers project his future, we need to realize the unknown in projecting any player’s future. Robert’s future is fine. He should not read ---- or set his goals ------- or be held to a standard established by a Baseball America article where the writer’s main goal is to sell more paper.
Fungo
To me this decision made a whole lot of sense once I realized exactly what was in front of the Stock family.

First of all, Robert was young for his grade. Had he gone the normal course, he would not have turned 18 until well into his freshman year.

Secondly, he had a chance to start college a year early, i.e., skip his senior year of HS.

Personally I would have a difficult time sending my kid into the pro life at age 17. That was one option the Stocks looked at and ultimately chose not to take.

The other option was to see HS through, then go to college for 3/4 years and go pro at age 20 or 21.

The way they did it, he can get 3/4 years of college done and go pro at age 19 or 20. And a USC degree ain't too shabby, either.

Seems to me this kid got the best of both worlds by excelling both on the field and in the classroom. More power to him.
Well, maybe I'm the only one, and I won't say this is/was a mistake but finishing in the normal course of events with high school is not such a bad thing and then going on to college, don't see how that would have hurt him.

He is several years younger than his college peers not just in terms of baseball, but also in academics and in social circumstances.

He has put all his proverbial eggs in this one basket and I really don't see the point of how much was gained.

Also, perhaps, USC wasn't the best choice. I'm an SC alum and a big fan of the program. They are in a big transition period, haven't been to the tournament in a while, people are already screaming for the coach to be fired and they are about a .500 team which is not well received by the Trojan faithful. With all this, perhaps a bit too much has been expected of Stock, putting aside the issues of his age.

College and those years and the maturing process are tough enough. Never have really understood this one at all.
I don't understand why everyone picks apart this decision. Another webster told me he and his folks have been blasted on another site.

I think it was very wise, the draft is a c*ap shoot, he would have been drafted, no one knows where, being so young, all organizations do things differently. He could have spent a year in rookie, a year in low A, then another year in High A. That's not much fun, IMO, better to get your experience and at bats in college AND your education at the same time.

I think the naysayers (not here)about this young man have an issue, it's called jealousy.
quote:
Originally posted by Bum:
I thought he should have definitely gone pro, but Robert and his family obviously thought differently. I admire his talent and courage to take a path not so often chosen.. I suspect Robert Stock will be just fine.


I think he made a good decision to leave Agoura HS one year early. He would have been Agoura's lone ace on a weaker team. He would have been over worked and, in all likelihood, would have injured himself.
I don't know how any of us can second guess what the Stocks decided. We don't really know all the elements of the decision.

I've seen Robert play, and it is obvious he is a special talent. From everything I have heard and read, he is a terrific young man and his parents are terrific people. I admire the decision to go to college and pass up for now what would probably have been significant signing money.
I, too, think it was a good decision, but I'm just wondering how its going to pan out. As I was talking about earlier, he just hasn't shown the same prowess as he did back in high school. Obviously its not going to be the same, but it has still been lackluster.
tbirds,

To be honest, you do seem to be trying to find the negatives. Lackluster? In Robert's freshman year, he was a 17-yr-old HS boy competing against players much older than himself at the DI level. Now this year, when he is still only the age of the average true freshman, "As for this season, he has started every game behind the dish, is batting .300, and has thrown 3 scoreless innings and struck out 7 in the process."

He is a nice young man from a fine family, who seems to have passed up a lot of money to go and play college baseball first. I'll put my money on Robert having a successful college baseball career, and going on to have some success in pro ball. I hope he makes it to MLB, though I'm not qualified to predict that.

Julie
"Lackluster" isn't negative, it just means it hasn't been extraordinary. And thats exactly what I was contemplating, how his career is shaping up and where its headed. Not once have I doubted his decision or the difficulty of the task at hand.

edit: Lackluster - lacking brilliance or radiance (dictionary.com)
MN-Mom, actually he is currently the age of the average high school senior! So to me, what he's accomplished so far is extraordinary.

For anyone to call his performance to date "lackluster" shows either some axe to grind or complete ignorance of the situation. How many high school juniors could have started in the PAC 10 and hit .250? Not many. Maybe just this one.

I don't know if he would have been abused as a pitcher at Agoura, but from what I've read it does appear that he sees himself in the Wieters mold -- catcher/hitter first, pitcher second. Moving on to USC allowed him to focus more on the catching/hitting development. Had he stayed in HS, he most certainly would've been more prominent as a pitcher. And though Wieters pulled off pitching while also catching, he was a closer. It's tough to excel as a catcher when your arm is dead tired from pitching 5-7 innings a day or two earlier.

Here's a kid who, two years younger than the average freshman, started and held his own against top college competition. Now, one year younger than the average freshman, he's showing tremendous progress. Who knows how this year will end up, or how much progress he'll show through the end of the 2009 season. But if he ended up following in Wieters' $6 million footsteps, it wouldn't surprise me.

And BTW, this kid has already proved he can hit with wood. I watched the AFLAC game on TV in 2006, and his bomb to just left of center (he bats lefty) proved that.
quote:
Originally posted by OLDSLUGGER8:
NOBODY, and I mean not one person has the right to critcize an AMATEUR athlete.

Geez whiz, go pick on some bloated pro making millions of dollars while hovering near the mendoza line.


quote:
Originally posted by Midlo Dad:
MN-Mom, actually he is currently the age of the average high school senior! So to me, what he's accomplished so far is extraordinary.

For anyone to call his performance to date "lackluster" shows either some axe to grind or complete ignorance of the situation. How many high school juniors could have started in the PAC 10 and hit .250? Not many. Maybe just this one.

I don't know if he would have been abused as a pitcher at Agoura, but from what I've read it does appear that he sees himself in the Wieters mold -- catcher/hitter first, pitcher second. Moving on to USC allowed him to focus more on the catching/hitting development. Had he stayed in HS, he most certainly would've been more prominent as a pitcher. And though Wieters pulled off pitching while also catching, he was a closer. It's tough to excel as a catcher when your arm is dead tired from pitching 5-7 innings a day or two earlier.

Here's a kid who, two years younger than the average freshman, started and held his own against top college competition. Now, one year younger than the average freshman, he's showing tremendous progress. Who knows how this year will end up, or how much progress he'll show through the end of the 2009 season. But if he ended up following in Wieters' $6 million footsteps, it wouldn't surprise me.

And BTW, this kid has already proved he can hit with wood. I watched the AFLAC game on TV in 2006, and his bomb to just left of center (he bats lefty) proved that.


I approve this post
quote:
Originally posted by tbirds:
Last year Stock wound up hitting .253 on the year after splitting time at catcher. He fluctuated from being the teams #3 hole hitter to being pinch hit for in the later innings. On the mound he had 14 appearances and ended with a 4.55 ERA.


Not to pick on you but are there any HS juniors you know of that could do better? That's essentially (age-wise) what he was last year.

To look at it another way, next year when he is a Junior, he will be the same age as many of the incomming Freshman. Yeah, I think he's done just fine.
I watched a few low A minor league games where a prospect out of HS was clearly overmatched. He also clearly had a lot of talent. The next season he was still in the same league and he did a whole lot better. I think Robert went into a similar situation and has done as well as can be expected.

My guess is that the Stocks have found the transition from HS ball in a strong league to major D1 ball to be a bit tougher than expected, but Robert seems to have handled it quite well and I would expect him to continue to improve as he gets more experience under his belt.

He seems to be fairly physically mature despite his youth, and he's fairly mature for his age academically and socially so I wouldn't expect that to be a major factor. What he lacks is experience and he's getting it. I think the Stocks made a wise choice and wish Robert the best of luck in college and in next year's draft at the grand old age of 19, the same as some highly touted high school seniors.
For an update, USC played #2 Arizona today in a doubleheader. Stock caught the first game then caught the first 8 of the second game before coming in to close. The kid is no doubt succeeding for his team; he looked great behind the plate (the best part of his game - arm and defense).
tburds

Answer the question before you want to rail on me---do you think it is smart?

I am not talking about the previous history--I am talking of this one instance---this could be the instance that triggers the problem--maybe not--but it sure ain't helping

Answer the question--do you think it is smart?
TRhit- I agree with you on this one. It would have been preferable if he DH'ed the decond game or came in halfway. That's alot of wear and tear. You would NEVER see a pro catcher catch the second game.

Secondly, this whole age thing regarding Stock being so young has got to go. The kid probably has an August or September birthday like a bunch of kids. He was not playing D1 as the equivalent of a HS junior.

The reality is that he did this to better his future professional career (and it makes sense). High school baseball, even in southern california is just not very challenging for kids who play at a high level in the summer. He was a dime a dozen as a pitcher and had some arm challenges (why bother). His receiving skills were not very good to be brutally honest. He had a strong arm behind the dish but his footwork was poor. He was younger for his grade and going off to play rookie ball at 17 with a bunch of kids who didn't speak his language would have been an absolute culture shock.

The solution- Go play college baseball for three years at USC. He gets to work with an ex big-league catcher at getting better, enjoys the college life, and comes out bigger, stronger, and more prepared for the rigors of pro baseball. Good choice.
quote:
Originally posted by ncball:
Secondly, this whole age thing regarding Stock being so young has got to go. The kid probably has an August or September birthday like a bunch of kids. He was not playing D1 as the equivalent of a HS junior.


What do you mean "it's got to go"??? It is what it is, he was young for his class to begin with, not to mention he left early. I'm not sure why you feel that has no merit???

Kids with August/September birthdays are always the youngest in thier class. I know, I was one!!! Typically kids graduate when they're 18, not 17. Hence, a "typical" junior is 17. And yes, there are those exceptions.

http://usctrojans.cstv.com/sports/m-basebl/mtt/stock_robert00.html

"...birthdate is Nov. 21, 1989"

Just as a side note, he's only 3 years older than my 15u HS Freshman.
I would like to take this opportunity to say that I TOTALLY AGREE WITH TRHIT!!!!

Other comments on above posts:

Stock is exactly 2 months, 17 days older than my son who is currently a high school senior. Without question he is two years ahead in the pipeline. There are seniors on our HS baseball team who are older than Stock.

Stock was a "dime a dozen" as a pitcher? I beg to differ. The kid could run it up to 95 when he was 16. He had nasty breaking stuff even then, and was the #1 arm on the Junior National Team. Gimme a break!

I did note in the AFLAC game that he muffed a few balls that I would normally expect a top flight catcher to handle easily. I later heard he was using a brand new mitt. Not sure why, but there it is FWIW.
quote:
He was a dime a dozen as a pitcher
Give me a break! He's been a BA player of the year. He threw mid 90's in high school. He succeeded on Team USA. He probably would have gone in the first ten picks in the draft had he stayed for senior year of high school. That's hardly "dime a dozen."
OMG

1. Left handed hitting catcher
2. Some serious juice in his bat
3. 17 y/o College Freshman
4. Proven experience swingin the lumber!
5. Might project to be 6'3 210 lbs!
6. This prospect's future is an everyday player,
and probably behind the dish, (then 1b/3b).

Hits like a young Al Kaline, who happened
to by-pass the minor leagues.

Yet reminds me a heckuva lot like
Willam James Surhoff. Who had an unbelievable
college career at UNC.
And a #1 draft pick, and then 19 years in the bigs, (and whose last year of pro ball was 2004).

And I ran into last night at the Terp vs UNC game. Surhoff even knew of the kid.

An 'experiment'? %^T&U*. NO!

A future! YES!

[Yet could fall-back to the bump!]
How about $3.5M signing bonus in 2009!
and if with Bodwen's - could see 40 man roster
in 2010!
Son was a 17 year old freshman and the age thing doesn't seem to be that big of a deal, however, Stock is a stud at any age. I am an advocate for college in most scenarios, just for the great experience and comraderie. Think Stock will benefit for it...IF...they don't hurt him with overuse.
Do I think it was smart?

By smart you mean what? Was it the best decision for the team, the player, or his baseball career.

Obviously the team was better with him in the lineup.

Secondly, he obviously handled the task extremely well.

However, the question of course is injury. If he is not strong enough (in shape, durable, healthy) to handle the task, then obviously its a bad decision. On the other hand, if he was all those things then it was merely another day in the ballpark. Personally, I have no idea what his workout regime is, I'm sure his coach does however.

My earlier comment was regarding the "scandal" that happened six years ago when he was 12 and threw 2 games in a day as well as caught 2 games. I remember the outcry that TRhit made, and have yet to see it come to fruition.


This is all beyond the point, however, as the initial point of the thread was to wonder how Stock will wind up as a player, using how he has performed so far as indication. After this weekend he is batting .333 through 20 starts (in 20 games) and has thrown 4 scoreless innings and struck out 8.
ncball,
Looking at PG's top nine 2008s, 5 of them are older than Robert and most of the rest are within a few months of him in age. I'd say he was playing D1 ball at the same age as a typical junior, and is playing his second year at the same age as a typical senior.

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