Sem Robberse, a native of Zeist in the Netherlands, has shot up prospect rankings across baseball since signing with the Blue Jays in 2019.
The 20-year-old pitcher enters the 2022 season as Toronto’s No. 8 prospect per FanGraphs and No. 7 per MLB Pipeline, and has impressed the organization with his makeup.
“He’s just a professional,” said Cory Popham, the pitching development coordinator for the Blue Jays in a Zoom interview. “The way he goes about everything is incredibly impressive. His diet, his workout routine, he’s very methodical in the way he pitches.”
Robberse has seen a big jump in his velocity since joining the professional ranks in North America. When he signed with Toronto, he was sitting in the mid-80s with his fastball and in 2021, he was touching 96 MPH.
Popham says that Robberse came to the Blue Jays with a strong foundation and has only added to it with the increased velocity and an ever-developing pitch arsenal.
“He’s got four or five pretty impressive pitches and he knows how to use them, and continues to refine them,” Popham said. “His first year, he put on some muscle and gained the velocity. Then the next year he implemented a really impressive change-up and slider as well.”
Robberse spent 2021 across two levels, pitching in 14 games in Low-A for the Dunedin Blue Jays and seven games in High-A with the Vancouver Canadians. He combined to throw 88.2 innings while striking out 90 with only 38 walks and finishing the season with a 4.36 ERA.
After getting the chance to pitch against Triple-A competition in spring training, Robberse will start the 2022 season back with Vancouver.
Popham says the Blue Jays pitching philosophy has evolved over the past few years and can be summarized as pitchers throwing their best stuff in the zone — and that Robberse fits right in with what they are teaching.
“Sem is the epitome of that because he just attacks guys, he’s not afraid of contact, [and] he’s relentless,” he said. “We’ve tried to improve [his] stuff however we can… but as far as fitting the organizational philosophy, he throws a ton of strikes and does it with all his pitches.”