The Alabama Hammer


By going 2-5 Friday night, Clint Robinson put Omaha one game closer to the playoffs in the Storm Chasers 14-1 rout of New Orleans.

Here’s the crazy thing.  His August batting average actually went down despite two hits.

He’s making a fine case for a September call-up.  The question is if he’ll get his opportunity.

At one point when Eric Hosmer was chasing high heat, Kila Ka’aihue had fallen off the earth and before Billy Butler was Country Breakfast, there was a sector of Royals fans who were begging for Robinson to get a call up to play first base.

Obviously, that didn’t happen, as the Royals stuck with Hosmer and made adjustments with Butler to increase his power production.  Meanwhile, Robinson, last year’s Texas League Triple Crown winner, kept on slugging, waiting on his chance.

Read any scouting report on Robinson and you find similar observations. He’s slow.  He has no glove.  He’ll likely struggle against lefties at a higher level.  He’s old for a prospect.

Many of these are likely to be true, but there’s no denying that Robinson has earned a look – at least a showcase – this September.

Then he hit a rough patch in July. Perhaps pitchers found a hole in his swing or he was pressing, but he put up a .245/.330/.304/.634 line in 27 games.  He had four extra base hits.

He’s rebounded in a big way.

As I said before, his batting average for the month of August dropped from .424 to .421 (okay it wasn’t a big drop) after a 2 for 5 day.  Overall, his August line looks like he’s playing against high schoolers.  He has a 1.252 OPS this month.

Here’s the catch.  Omaha has a four game lead over Memphis and a magic number of seven to clinch the American Northern Division of the Pacific Coast League.  There’s a thought that the Royals will want to maintain continuity among the team during the playoffs with an idea to keep them together as they learn to win.  Considering the Royals will want to have Hosmer in the lineup everyday and Butler is hitting too well to be benched, the at bats won’t be plentiful for Robinson.

In 2008, after destroying the minor leagues, Ka’aihue came up and got all of 28 at bats at the big league level.  That’s not bad to get your feet wet, but it’s not enough time to learn anything about Robinson’s ability to hit major league pitching.

That’s not worthless of course.  Any appearance at the highest level is better than none, and I’m sure Robinson would relish the chance.  My hunch is that the front office will keep Robinson in Omaha for their full playoff run (assuming they clinch of course).  He might see a handful of at bats only.

Robinson deserves a look, but his future with the Royals is dependent on either a Hosmer or Butler injury or meltdown and continued progress at the plate.  His best shot will be with another organization.  Perhaps his cup of coffee in 2011 (which may only be 20 at bats) will be enough to convince another team to make a move for him.  He’ll be 27 at the start of next season, which is quite old for someone who hasn’t made their major league debut yet, so there may not be a big market for him, unless some General Manager out there sees something they can mold into a future late-blooming star.

All he’s done since becoming a pro is hit, and that track record will get him a look, but will it be in 2011? Will it be with the Royals?

And – the fun question – can Robinson end up hitting .500 this month?

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Tags: AL Central Baseball Clint Robinson Kansas City Royals KC KC Royals MLB Ned Yost Omaha Storm Chasers Royals