Saturday, February 6, 2010

Top Prospects #26: Derrick Robinson

#26 Derrick Robinson

Age: 22
HT/WT: 5-11/170
B/T: S/R
Pos: CF
Drafted: 4th Round, Pick #107 of 2006 Rule IV Draft
High School: PK Yonge HS (FL)
ETA: 2012

By now most Royals fans know the story on Derrick Robinson. He was a football recruit for the University of Florida to play corner, but the Royals were able to persuade him to begin a career in professional baseball for an above slot bonus of $850,000 (the highest bonus for a fourth rounder in 2006). When drafted Robinson had the speed, after all he did set a record at the Perfect Game USA Camp for a 6.19 second 60 yard dash and he grades out as an 80 on the 20-80 scale. But Royals scouts also saw the potential for Robinson to develop into Kenny Lofton type leadoff hitter.

In back to back seasons Robinson has stolen over 60 bases and many still believe that he hasn't reached his base running potential. I shudder to imagine the stolen base numbers he could post once he refines his pitcher reading abilities and if he were to post an average OBP season. If these two things could happen I would expect Robinson to steal 90+ bases a season.

Unfortunately this brings me to Robinson's biggest weakness. Dude can't hit. In four minor league seasons Robinson has posted a triple slash of .243/.307/.318, but there are three reasons why I remain optimistic for Robinson in 2010.

1) Robinson's Babip: On the surface it appears as though Robinson's numbers took a step back from 2008 to 2009. However, his BABIP dropped over twenty points and if his BABIP would have stayed at a league average level, then according to he would have posted a triple slash of .257/.304/.337, while this line isn't impressive it represents improvement over his luck removed 2008 line of .235/.307/.308. Typically when players outperform their BABIP it is because they are speedsters and are able to beat out balls that typically result in groundouts. Given that Robinson is one of the fastest players in baseball, I am going to hope that 2009 was an aberration and that over the long run Robinson will out perform his BABIP.

2) Frawley Stadium: Any time we evaluate a player's numbers we need to consider the park in which he played, and since Frawley Stadium is hell on Earth for hitters I am going to cut Robinson a little slack. Generally though Frawley stadium is tougher on power hitters than average guys, but I have also heard that the infield conditions at Frawley also result in a lower number of hits on ground balls. (I wish I could remember the source that I heard this from!) In 2009 Robinson had a groundball percentage of over 60%. Don't get me wrong this is an awful number, but I'm sure part of the reason it is so high is because of Robinson's efforts to slap hit down the third base line and bunt for hits. So perhaps if Robinson can get out of Frawley more of these types of hits can get Robinson on base as opposed to getting his team back into the field.

3) August 2009: Through the first 3 and a half seasons of Robinson's career there was no reason to believe that he had the ability to hit. That changed in August 2009 when Robinson posted a triple slash of .311/.362/.513 with 5 home runs. (Robinson has just 8 home runs in his pro career.) While some would contribute these numbers to a small sample size. I am going to argue that he did receive 119 at bats in this month and his numbers in this month are so different than the rest of his career that something must have changed for him. The other promising factor here is that this month is the last full month that he has played in and so there isn't a months worth of at bats after that are bad enough to suggest that August was a mirage, which it could very well wind up being. The point is that up until this point in time the only reason a Royals fan would think that Robinson would one day hit is because scouts have told them that he might or would. But August 2009 proved that there is the potential there that Robinson could wind up hitting to a certain degree.

For these three reasons I hold out hope that Robinson will develop into an everyday center fielder that can become a fixture at the top of the order. I have also failed to mention that Robinson is considered by many to be a top flight defensive center fielder. The potential is still here and he has done just enough for me to hold out hope that it can one day be reached, but he hasn't quite done enough to break into the Royal Revival top 25 and for this reason he comes in at #26 in the countdown.

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