Clint Robinson has bad timing.
Had he entered professional baseball years earlier, he’d likely have been the Royals starting first baseman or designated hitter in 2005. As it happens, he’s risen up prospect lists while Kansas City has Billy Butler entrenched at DH and Eric Hosmer on the cusp of superstardom. Robinson, without any other positional options, is left out of the mix.
That’s a shame, because Robinson, since day one as a pro, has hit everything that’s come his way.
Robinson was drafted in 2007 out of Troy University in the 25th round. It’s not a surprise that the Royals saw little reason to put him on the fast track. He’s always had questions around his numbers, and some scouts think his lack of athleticism will catch up to him in the big leagues.
It wasn’t until 2010 that Robinson started to get a buzz. To that point, the Royals had moved him up level by level, year by year. Robinson kept hitting.
Then he won the Triple Crown in the Texas League with a .335/29/98 line.
Skill-wise, Robinson is a slow runner, a questionable fielder but a complete masher at the plate. In the last two seasons, he has 132 extra base hits and has increased his walkrate both seasons.
He carries with him, though, the same questions that many players have had pop up over the years. We can look no further than former Royals minor league star Kila Ka’aihue, who destroyed Double A and Triple A from 2008 to 2010 but, once reaching the majors, had his flaws exploited over and over until he was finally sent away. Other such AAAA All-Stars, like Dallas McPherson or Jai Miller, have shown great hitting ability against Triple A pitchers, but never cut it in the big leagues.
That’s where some see Robinson ending up. He’s shown a decent ability to hit left-handed pitching at Triple A, but most of his power came against righties. He’s always been able to hit line drives and hit to all fields but against more talented and seasoned pitching, there are concerns that he won’t adjust quickly enough, and just like Ka’aihue, will be susceptible to well-timed offspeed pitches and particularly vulnerable to platoon splits.
To this point, that’s just speculation. Robinson was added to the Royals 40 man roster last winter but didn’t make it to the big leagues because of Ka’aihue’s (failed) audition, Eric Hosmer’s meteoric rise and Billy Butler’s stalwart hitting prowess. In September, Robinson was recovering from a reported sports hernia and was not added to the big league club. He’s also missing the Arizona Fall League. Bad timing, again.
I’ll be surprised if the Royals keep him over the winter. There are many teams who could use a left-handed power hitter, and even though Robinson will be old for a player making a major league debut (he turns 27 in February), his opportunity should be soon – though with a different organization. The Royals have dropped hints that they’ll be active on the trade market this winter, and Robinson is a perfect addition to a package for other prospects or major league pieces.
Until then, he offers the Royals something they haven’t always had in the minor league system – power-hitting depth. If he does stick with the organization, he’ll likely spend another year at Triple A barring an injury to Hosmer or Butler.