All the hard work and the switch from a reliever to starting pitcher paid off for Wake Forest junior Griffin Roberts last night when he was taken 43rd overall by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2018 MLB Draft. It is expected that he will sign and join the Cardinals minor leagues shortly.
He was actually selected in last year’s 2017 MLB Draft as well by the Minnesota Twins in the 29th round. He had a 2.19 ERA and recorded eight saves as the Deacs closer.
After a switch to a weekend starter, Roberts went 5-4 this year for the Deacs with a 3.82 ERA, including a whopping 130 strikeouts, which led the ACC.
Roberts boasts one of the more devastating sliders that I have ever seen, and this could allow him to make it up to the majors in September if the Cardinals are contending in the NL Central. They are currently in 3rd, 3.5 games back of the surprise Milwaukee Brewers.
However, given his workload already this season and the jump up in innings pitched from the past two seasons, I am unsure of whether or not the Cardinals will want to continue to stretch him this season.
It will also be interesting to see if he is given the chance to compete as a starter or simply put down to the relief role due to his fastball + slider combination. If he continues to improve on his change-up then I could see him doing very well in a starting role over time.
Getting drafted where Roberts did last night reveals his character and willingness to work to get better. He joined Wake as a walk-on before working his way into the closing position last year. He was up for the switch to Friday night starter this year, and put on some extremely impressive performances, including his final start as a Demon Deacon where he wowed scouts in Durham in the ACC Tournament.
While we obviously wish that Roberts would come back from another year, we are grateful for everything that he has done while a Demon Deacon and wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavors. As a Cubs fan I can say that I hope I don’t see too much of him in the postseason moving forward!
In other Wake Forest related news, Wake Forest signee Grant Lavigne was picked by the Colorado Rockies with the 42nd pick in the Draft. That slot value is worth approximately $1.7M, so the hopes of getting Lavigne to campus took a pretty big hit for Coach Tom Walter.