Our trip back through time in Philadelphia Phillies history looking at a random pitcher and player from each 1971-2019 team moves back to 2013 and a pitcher who made less than a handful of appearances in what was his lone big-league season.
Mauricio Robles was originally signed by the Detroit Tigers as a 17-year-old amateur international free agent out of his native Venezuela back in August 2006. The southpaw worked as a starting pitcher in the Tigers farm system over the next three years, and had risen to High-A Lakeland in 2009 when he was included as part of a trade.
Leading the AL Central Division by 1 1/2 games at the July 31, 2009 trade deadline, Detroit shipped Robles along with another lefty pitching prospect who had just broken into the majors, Luke French, to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for 34-year-old veteran southpaw Jarrod Washburn.
Pitching for the next three years in the Seattle minors system, Robles just couldn’t get himself a big-league audition. Each off-season, Robles would return and participate in the Venezuelan Winter League, getting more innings against experienced hitters in a competitive environment.
The Mariners finally gave up on him in the fall of 2012, and on December 14, 2012 the Phillies selected him off waivers and invited him to spring training. He threw just one inning with the club in the 2013 Grapefruit League and was assigned to Double-A Reading out of spring camp.
Robles pitched well in 2013 stints at both Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Over 51 games at the two stops combined he went 5-3 with nine saves and a 1.97 ERA, allowing just 35 hits over 64 innings with 63 strikeouts. He did walk an alarming 44 opposing batters, and it was this lack of command and control which had kept him out of the big-leagues to that point.
With rosters expanded in September, Robles finally got the opportunity that he had waited for so long, with the Phillies calling him up. On September 3, 2013 at Citizens Bank Park, new Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg gave him his first shot on a big-league mound.
Robles entered that game against the Washington Nationals with the Phillies already trailing by 5-2 in the top of the 6th inning. By the time Robles one inning of work was over it was a 7-2 deficit.
He struck out opposing pitcher Gio Gonzalez as the first batter he faced, but a throwing error by third baseman Cody Asche allowed the next batter to reach base and may have unnerved the 24-year-old. He first balked and then walked veteran Ryan Zimmerman on five pitches.
Robles got Bryce Harper to ground into a fielder’s choice with a runner thrown out at the plate for a second out in the inning. Nearly out of a jam, he then fell behind and surrendered back-to-back RBI singles to both Jayson Werth and Ian Desmond. In the bottom of the inning, Erik Kratz was sent to pinch-hit for Robles, ending his night.
He would get two more chances to pitch with the Phillies. On September 15 in Washington against the Nats, Robles allowed three hits and two runs, only one of which was charged to him, over just 2/3 of an inning.
His final chance with the team would prove his last game on a mound in Major League Baseball. He went out with a his best performance as well.
On September 26, 2013 at Turner Field in Atlanta, Phillies starter Tyler Cloyd had been beaten up by the host Braves and was replaced with nobody out in the bottom of the 2nd inning by Robles with the deficit already at 7-1.
Robles would walk the first batter he faced that evening, but then largely settled down. He would pitch three scoreless frames, allowing two hits and two walks while striking out four Atlanta batters.
In the bottom of the 4th inning, Robles struck out Jordan Schafer swinging and walked off a big-league mound for the final time. He was pinch-hit for by Pete Orr leading off the top of the 5th, officially bringing his third and final appearance in a Phillies uniform to an end.
The Phillies released him after the season was over and Robles signed on with the Chicago White Sox in November 2013. Invited to spring training by the Chisox, Robles suffered an injury and never pitched with them.
Robles became a free agent the following off-season and has continued to pitch in Venezuela, including eight games this past winter, but has not been able to catch on with an MLB organization. He turned 31-years-old in early March and his big-league career appears to be over.