Kings of Kauffman Prospect Rankings: #23 Derrick Robinson

Who: Derrick Lamar Robinson
DOB: 9/28/1987, Gainesville, Florida
Position: CF
Height: 5’11″
Weight: 180 lb
Bats: Switch
Throws: Left
Acquired: 2006 Draft – 4th Round

Rankings:
~ Baseball America: #26
~ Royals Prospects: #22
~ Royals Review #21
~ Kevin Goldstein: #18
~ John Sickels: Honorable mention

Stats:

Year Age Tm Lev PA R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2006 18 Royals Rk 208 25 41 6 3 1 24 20 14 24 55 .233 .335 .318 .653
2007 19 2 Teams A-A+ 463 43 104 12 3 2 26 35 7 33 100 .248 .303 .305 .608
2007 19 Burlington A 449 42 99 11 3 2 26 34 7 32 100 .243 .299 .300 .599
2007 19 Wilmington A+ 14 1 5 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 .385 .429 .462 .890
2008 20 Wilmington A+ 556 69 122 22 8 0 34 62 17 51 97 .245 .316 .322 .638
2009 21 Wilmington A+ 571 72 125 19 5 5 47 69 23 35 90 .239 .290 .324 .614
2010 22 NWA AA 570 74 146 26 8 2 48 50 17 45 86 .286 .345 .380 .725
5 Seasons 2368 283 538 85 27 10 179 236 78 188 428 .253 .316 .333 .649
A+ (3 seasons) A+ 1141 142 252 42 13 5 81 132 40 87 187 .244 .305 .325 .629
A (1 season) A 449 42 99 11 3 2 26 34 7 32 100 .243 .299 .300 .599
AA (1 season) AA 570 74 146 26 8 2 48 50 17 45 86 .286 .345 .380 .725
Rk (1 season) Rk 208 25 41 6 3 1 24 20 14 24 55 .233 .335 .318 .653
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 2/1/2011.

Derrick Robinson has been in the Royals system long enough that the first thing you already know about him is that he’s fast.

Like, really fast.

When he was drafted in 2006, he had commited to a football scholarship from the University of Florida. With a 40 yard dash time of 4.25 seconds, he would have made a threatening running quarterback for the Gators. As it is, he instead looks like the prototypical base-stealing center fielder in the mold of Willie Mays Hays from Major League. But faster.

The issue for Robinson to this point has been getting him into position to unleash that amazing speed.  With a career on base percentage of .316, he hasn’t reached nearly enough to be a leadoff hitter at the big league level.  Last year, he set a career high by batting .286 but until he can take a walk, it’s hard to project him as anything beyond a Carlos Gomez kind of player – rangy, speedy, but the bat falls out of his hands at the plate.

While he can still work to improve his sub-8% walkrate (7.9%), he’s made adjustments at the plate to improve his hitting, notably slugging five homers in August 2009 after shifting to a more upright stance.  He carried the hot August into a decent 2010 season at Double A after languishing in High A for two straight seasons.  Sure, that’s just a team-sponsored award, but it says that the organization is taking notice.

When Robinson makes the big leagues, it’s going to be due to his wheels.  His batting average carried a lot of his OBP in 2010, but both numbers were perfectly acceptable and it seems to indicate that he’s progressing as a hitter – he’ll turn 24 at the end of this season, so there’s still work to do.  He’s made better contact over the past three seasons, reducing his strikeout rate from 17.44% in 2008 to 15.76% in 2009 and 15.09% last season.  That’s much better than his first full season of baseball where he struck out in 21.6% of his at bats.

That also means that as he makes more contact, he’s putting the pressure on fielders to make a play since his speed makes him a difficult out when he can hit it to the right spot on the infield.  He’s a threat to take an extra base at any time, on a hit, or once he’s reached first.

His defense will be a strength as well, since he can cover so much ground and make the plays.  His arm is described as improving by Baseball America.  Those are all positives.

There’s still the threat that he’ll regress to his pre-August 2009 days where he was putting up OPS numbers just north of .600.  After a successful year at Double A, he’ll probably start out at Omaha, patrolling center field and trying to keep the improvement rolling.  It’s hard to project him as anything more than a capable fourth outfielder in the majors, as he’d have to walk more to earn a role as an everyday player.

After stealing 62, 69, and 50 bases over the past three seasons, Robinson could be a threat for 100 steals at the big league level if he can start to walk a few more times a month and keeps making contact. He’s been named the Royals Baserunner of the Year at their awards presentation the past two seasons, so the organization knows he’s got the potential to be a disruptive force on the bases.

Now he just has to put it all together if he’s to be the center fielder of the future.

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