- Full name Derrick Lamar Robinson
- Born 09/28/1987 in Gainesville, FL
- Profile Ht.: 5'11" / Wt.: 190 / Bats: S / Throws: L
- School P K. Yonge
- Debut 04/05/2013
Drafted in the 4th round (107th overall) by the Kansas City Royals in 2006 (signed for $850,000).
View Draft ReportOne of last summer's highlights was Robinson strapping on his bright red track shoes to run the 60-yard-dash at showcases, especially after he was clocked last June in 6.19 seconds. Also a top football recruit, Robinson committed to Florida, but he has told scouts he wants to sign to play baseball. He's an 80 runner on the 20-80 scouting scale, but he's more than just an athlete. He has a feel for the game and impressed scouts with his instincts, considering he's split time between two sports. He has improved his pitch recognition, though he has additional room for improvement. He tends to get out on his front foot too early, especially from the left side of the plate, but when he stays back he has gap power and good bat speed. He needs to get stronger, but he knows how to use the whole field and bunts well. His defensive skills are average, with a below-average arm.
Organization Prospect Rankings
Robinson accepted a football scholarship to play cornerback at Florida, but the Royals bought him away from that commitment for $850,000 after drafting him in the fourth round in 2006. At the time, he represented a rare over-slot signing for Kansas City outside of the first round. The Royals have had to be patient with him, but he came on in the second half of 2009 and had his best pro season in 2010. Robinson had good timing, because the club decided to protect him on the 40-man roster rather than risk losing him in the Rule 5 draft. He has 70-75 speed on the 20-80 scale, and since shortening his stride in mid-2009, he has hit lefthanders well for the first time in his career. But even with the progress he has made, Robinson still has a long ways to go. He continues to strike out too much and walk too infrequently, he has very little power and he gets thrown out more than someone with his speed should. He's a plus defender in center field, but his poor jumps at times keep him from running down as many balls as fellow center fielder Jarrod Dyson. Robinson's arm is below average. He'll move up to Triple-A this year, and he'll have to keep getting better to be productive enough to become a big league regular.
At the end of last July, the Royals were about ready to give up on having Robinson switch-hit. He never had been comfortable hitting from the left side, though he never had really proven he could hit from the right side either. But when Kansas City approached him about batting solely righthanded, he asked if he could try one adjustment first. The Royals had spread out his stance, so he asked if he could move his feet closer together, partly because he felt it would allow him to get out of the box better. The results were convincing. After hitting three home runs in his first 1,475 pro at-bats, Robinson hit five in August as part of a .311/.362/.513 month--his first .300 or better month as a pro. The new stance allowed Robinson to get his hands through the strike zone quicker with more bat speed, and restored speed he had lost from home to first. He again started recording the sub-4.0-second times to first that were expected out of the former University of Florida quarterback recruit. He's a burner who ranked fifth in the minors with 69 stolen bases. Robinson still doesn't walk as much as a potential top-of-the-order speedster should, however. His speed does make him a well above-average center fielder, and his arm has improved to the point where it's now fringe-average. After two full seasons in Wilmington, Robinson will finally move up to Double-A in 2010. He'll have to prove that his hot August wasn't a fluke.
Robinson could patrol center field in Kansas City right now, but he has a long way to go to prove that he can hit enough to make it to Kansas City. The Royals spent $850,000 to get Robinson to give up a football scholarship to Florida, and he has shown the athleticism and makeup they were hoping for. But at the plate, the switch-hitter's lefthanded swing still looks unnatural. He has shown improved pitch recognition and is using his hands better. Where he used to survive on bloop hits, he now has more line-drive singles and doubles, especially when he's hitting righthanded. But Robinson will have to make more strides with pitch recognition and develop the ability to take a walk if he's going to ever be anything more than a No. 9 hitter. He's also still honing his ability to bunt, which would immediately improve his batting average. He can fly down the line in 3.8-3.9 seconds from home to first from the left side, and steals bases largely with his pure speed. If he improved his leads and his ability to read pitchers' moves, he could steal even more than the 62 bags he nabbed last year. In the outfield, he has the speed to run down balls in the gaps, and through hard work he has improved his arm to where it's now just a tick below average. Kansas City has pushed Robinson aggressively, but after struggling for three seasons, he'd be best off returning to high Class A to try to help him develop some confidence at the plate.
The best athlete in the system, Robinson abandoned a football scholarship to Florida to sign with the Royals for $850,000 in 2006. Speed is Robinson's biggest tool and it is beginning to show on the basepaths. He's a slightly above-average basestealer now but has good instincts and should continue to improve as his timing and jumps get better. He stole 35 bases in 42 attempts in 2007 after being caught 14 times in 34 attempts in 2006. Robinson's ceiling is that of a prototypical leadoff hitter with a little extra pop in his bat, with one Royals official comparing him to a young Kenny Lofton. He's still raw offensively, however, and did not work counts well as the Royals encouraged him to learn to hit the ball first and develop discipline later. He did improve his approach at the plate by spreading out his stance and creating a better base. Robinson is an above-average defender and continues to improve his routes. The team had him play a shallow center field last year to get a better feel for going back on the ball. The Royals believe Robinson has the potential to be a special player and will take their time with his development. He may begin 2008 back in Burlington but should move up to high Class A quickly.
Robinson had scouts salivating in the summer of 2005, when he was clocked running a 6.19-second 60-yard dash on the showcase circuit. Though he committed to Florida as a cornerback in football, he told scouts he wanted to play baseball and signed with the Royals for $850,000, easily the highest bonus in the fourth round last year. Robinson's rare speed plays better on defense than on the bases at this point. He easily tracks balls and has nifty instincts in center field, but he was caught in 14 of his 34 steal attempts as a pro. Opponents knew he planned on running nearly every time he reached base in order to work on his basestealing skills, which made it tough to run. The question mark with Robinson is his bat. A natural righthanded hitter, he struggled horribly from the left side in his pro debut, hitting just .194 with 52 strikeouts in 134 at-bats. He has some strength and bat speed, but he needs a smoother stroke and better plate discipline. His speed will be wasted if he can't consistently make contact and get on base. His arm is below average. Robinson's is a project and Kansas City will be patient in trying to mold him into a leadoff hitter. He likely will open 2007 in low Class A.
Minor League Top Prospects
Like Brewer, Robinson was one of the best athletes in the league and a top college football recruit. He was ticketed to player cornerback at Florida before signing with the Royals for $850,000 as a fourth-round pick. Robinson's standout tool is his speed, as he's a 3.9-second runner from the left side of the plate to first base and could shave more time off it he got out of the box quicker. He can run down just about any ball in center field, and though he only recently has become a full-time baseball player, he has solid defensive instincts. He still has work to do on the basepaths. Most of Robinson's game remains raw, and there are concerns about his bat. A switch-hitter, he needs to smooth out his swing from both sides. He has the strength and bat speed to hit with some authority, but must learn to make more consistent contact. His arm is below average.
Best Tools List
- Rated Fastest Baserunner in the Texas League in 2011
- Rated Best Athlete in the Kansas City Royals in 2011
- Rated Fastest Baserunner in the Texas League in 2010
- Rated Best Defensive Outfielder in the Kansas City Royals in 2010
- Rated Best Athlete in the Kansas City Royals in 2010
- Rated Fastest Baserunner in the Carolina League in 2009
- Rated Best Baserunner in the Carolina League in 2009
- Rated Best Athlete in the Kansas City Royals in 2009
- Rated Fastest Baserunner in the Carolina League in 2008
- Rated Best Baserunner in the Carolina League in 2008
- Rated Best Athlete in the Kansas City Royals in 2008
- Rated Best Athlete in the Kansas City Royals in 2007
- Rated Fastest Baserunner in the Kansas City Royals in 2007