Drew Robinson Could Balance Cardinals' Bench
As the Cardinals assessed their roster this winter and sought someone, via trade, they did not have, they recognized a need for a lefthanded bat who could handle shortstop or a center fielder who batted lefthanded.
They found a way to get both—in one player.
In a one-for-one swap of players, the Cardinals sent Patrick Wisdom, a slugging third baseman who didn’t have a spot in the majors with the Cardinals, to the Rangers for Drew Robinson, a utility fielder with familiarity at every position but the battery. Robinson is 26 and has played both shortstop and center in the majors—and he has started games at four positions.
"I’ve been a utility player as long as I can remember,” Robinson said. "Athletic. Small. But I grew and got the movements down. I think it keeps me busy. It keeps me challenged.”
A 2010 fourth-round pick out of a Las Vegas high school, Robinson hit .297/.373/.566 in 55 games in the minors last season, mostly at Triple-A Rock. He hit just .183 in 47 major league games, however, undermined by a 46 percent strikeout rate that ranked highest among all batters with at least 100 plate appearances.
Cognizant of Robinson's swing-and-miss rate, the Cardinals still see a player who has flashed power against righthanders and could improve his contact rate. Their scouting reports see him has a better outfielder than infielder—but it’s that versatility and the lefthanded bat that help him stand out.
Robinson will come to spring training with a chance to compete with Yairo Munoz, another infielder with the ability to play the outfield, and a handful of others, all of whom bat righthanded. That right-leaning roster gives Robinson an edge—but not a guarantee.
Robinson has carried at least three different gloves to the ballpark ever since his youth in Las Vegas as the field replacement for whichever teammate had to pitch, and the Cardinals intend to maximize his movement around the field regardless of his level.
The adjustment for Robinson will be seeing many positions, but few at-bats.
"I’ve learned that it’s more of a mental at-bat,” he said, "than a physical at-bat.”
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— With 66 home runs the past two seasons, outfielder Tyler O’Neill asserted his place as one of the top power prospects in the game and earned the organization's minor league player of the year award. He and pitcher of the year Dakota Hudson will contribute in St. Louis in 2019.
— A few weeks after claiming 24-year-old righthander Ryan Meisinger on waivers from the Orioles to provide depth for 2019, the Cardinals were able to hold onto the reliever by passing him through waivers. He recorded a 3.13 ERA in 32 relief appearances in the minors in 2018, and he’ll have that role at Triple-A Memphis.