[Jim: We’d like to welcome Isaiah Burrows to the SnakePit team for the season. He is in Reno, and had been covering the Aces there for Tahoe Onstage. With no minor-league season, we’re glad to welcome him here, where he’ll be adding to Mike and Wes’s expertise, concentrating on our minor-league prospects. Here’s his first piece!]
Take one look at Kristian Robinson and he has the makeup of a superstar, even for a 19-year-old who hasn’t scratched the surface of his potential.
It could be his 6-foot-3 frame, his approach at the plate, or his thunderous bat that’s vaulted him to the top of Arizona’s talented farm system. The Nassau, Bahamas native signed with Arizona for $2.5 million in 2017 and has ascended through four minor league levels.
Even in a short sample size, Robinson has the physical traits to become one of the best prospects in all of baseball.
The D-backs’ system is already filled with talent across the board. Outfielders Alek Thomas and Corbin Carroll, catcher Daulton Varsho and shortstop Geroldo Perdomo were added to the 60-player pool and rank inside MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 Prospects list.
To some surprise, Robinson was left off the 60-man roster since he never traveled back to the Bahamas. He stayed in Arizona when spring training shut down and was given exemption to work out at Salt River Field.
According to Zach Buchanan of The Athletic, Diamondbacks general manager Mike Hazen said Robinson will have limited access to the team’s Scottsdale facilities, allowing him to workout while not being on the 60-man player pool.
Although he won’t suit up in the Sedona red for the shortened season, Robinson is viewed as the consensus top prospect in the system and has the tools to make an immediate impact. He ranks as MLB Pipeline’s No. 43 overall prospect with 60 grade power.
Robinson has put his impressive raw power on display over the past two years. In his first taste of pro ball in 2018, he launched three home runs in 17 games with the Missoula PaddleHeads, Arizona’s Rookie Pioneer League. He followed it up with nine home runs and 10 doubles in 44 games with Short Season Single-A Hillsboro last season to earn midseason All-Star honors. Robinson advanced to Class-A Kane County that same season and finished 2019 with a .282/.368/.514 slash line in 69 games.
For a teenager barely getting his cleats settled into professional baseball, Robinson has the physical tools that translate to the next level. His balanced right-handed swing has power to all fields, and there’s even more room for growth in his lean 190-pound frame.
Robinson is already producing triple-digit exit velocities at such a young age. And when he finds a pitch he likes in the zone, he pounces on it with blistering cracks that can be heard from every part of the stadium.
There are some swing-and-miss concerns at the moment, but Robinson has a patient approach at the plate. He rarely chases any off-speed pitches and drew 31 walks last season. When Robinson reaches base, his athleticism shines with long strides and quick feet. He stole 17 bases last season and has racked up 29 stolen bags in his minor league career.
Robinson’s speed translates defensively in the outfield, as well. He started 40 games in center field last season, but his projectable size may translate to a corner outfield spot in the future. He totaled 23 starts in right field and two starts in left field between the two minor league levels in 2019.
No matter where Robinson ends up defensively, his bat will fit into the lineup. One question surrounding Robinson’s complete offensive package is the hit tool. He struggles to make consistent contact at times and relies heavily on his raw power when he gets behind in the count. If he’s able to make consistent contact while building upon his impressive power, he has the potential to become a franchise player in the major leagues.
The Diamondbacks have targeted international talent over the years, and Robinson has become one of the hidden gems rising up the minor league ranks. He is a tantalizing prospect that can blossom within the D-backs’ farm system. It may take time to see him fully develop into an everyday big leaguer, but he’ll be well worth the wait.