Name: Kristian Robinson
DOB: 12/11/2000 (Age 18)
Acquired: 2017 International Free Agent
Position: Center Fielder
Most Notable Tool: Raw Power
Season Stats: 57 games, 256 PA, .279/.363/.428, 12 2B, 7 HR, 41 RBI, 48 R, 12/20 SB, 27/67 BB/K between Rookie affiliates AZL Dbacks and Missoula Osprey
2018 Season Summary: 2018 was Robinson’s first year in the system and he delivered on that promise. He started the year with the Arizona League affiliate, turning in a solid .272/.341/.414 slash in 40 games (182 PA). Robinson showed potential high BABIP skill in his debut season with BABIPs of .351 and .405 between his two stops. On top of that, he drew walks above 10% of the time at the plate to produce a solid OBP of .363. His Missoula numbers aren’t sustainable over a larger sample, but it continue the high BABIP trend and he improved his walk rate.
Tools: Hit 35/60, Power 50/65, Speed 60, Defense 45/55 (Proj. 60 if playing a corner)
Robinson’s potential high BABIP skill along with the potential for walks should allow for him to put up solid OBP numbers as he moves up the system. There is a lot of swing and miss in his game, as evidenced by his 26% K rate, but when he makes contact it jumps off the bat. Robinson’s natural strength and ability to backspin the ball makes him an imposing threat at the plate every time he steps in the box. He’s got enough athletic ability to stick in CF, although ultimately he moves to RF where his arm plays up and other outfield prospects ahead of him who are better suited to handle CF. Robinson has the speed to be a very effective baserunner and basestealer once he learns when and where to pick his spots. I can see him potentially being a Gold Glove finalist in RF if things work out at the plate.
Upside: In terms of raw talent, I don’t think there is a better prospect in the system today. Robinson has 5-plus tool talent, going by the projections, although the hit tool is the most inconsistent. He will likely outgrow the center field position as he bulks up to 225-235 along with Jake McCarthy or Ketel Marte likely established in CF by the time he sees regular playing time. If everything clicks we’re talking about a potential 30 HR/30 SB guy with plus defense in RF. Even though he’s years away from the MLB club, that’s the type of talent you do not trade under any circumstance either. Robinson will have to work on plate discipline, as that is his greatest weakness right now. It will be his ability to recognize borderline pitches and understanding what he can and can’t hit that will determine if he ends up being an MVP caliber talent.
Risk: Robinson is young and years away from the majors. As mentioned in the upside section, his biggest weakness is chasing pitches out of the zone. At the same time, you have to be impressed that at 17 years old he handled playing two levels of rookie ball very well. Robinson will have to work on closing up holes in his swing as well as learning what pitches he can or can’t handle. He has a good head on his shoulders, so I do think that ultimately that he will find a way to make it work.
Likely 2019 Assignment: Kane County is probably too ambitious a projection to start the season although I would not be surprised if he got a look there by the end of the season. I see him starting 2019 in Extended Spring Training before spending the second half of the year with Short A Hillsboro. It will be interesting to see if he can continue to show a high BABIP skill along with the ability to draw walks and get better on the field and basepaths. A strong 2019 campaign will have Robinson likely as the top position player prospect in the system.
ETA: 2022 Season