Today, on District On Deck, we continue our look inside the Washington Nationals non-roster invitees by profiling first baseman Clint Robinson, who was signed by the Nats back in December. Since that time, Washington has signed other players that can play the first base position to minor league deals such as Mike Carp and Kila Ka’iahue, two players that we profiled for you last month. With those signings, it’s pretty easy to overlook Robinson, who has only played in 13 career games in the major leagues.
Robinson was picked in the 25th round of the 2007 MLB Draft by the Kansas City Royals out of Troy University. When he played at Troy, the lefty hit .364 with 18 home runs and 71 RBI’s in his final season.
After spending five seasons with the Royals organization, Robinson was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates along with Vin Mazzaro for two minor league players in November of 2012. In that 2012 season, Robinson did get a chance to play in four games, but did not record a hit in any of his four at-bats.
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He did spend time with the Pirates and Blue Jays organizations before being signed by the Los Angleles Dodgers in November of 2013. Last season, Robinson played a small contribution to the NL West Champions. He had three hits in nine at-bats and drove in two runs. He played his final major league game with Los Angeles on July 6.
When you look at his small Major League sample size, he is not a player that should be expected to make the Washington Nationals Opening Day roster. With that being said, the 30-year-old had great triple-A numbers last season with the Albuquerque Isotopes of the Pacific Coast League.
In 119 games for the Isotopes, Robinson hit .312 with 18 home runs and 80 RBI’s. He was third on the team homers and his RBI total was two more than Joc Pederson, who is projected to be with the Los Angeles Dodgers on Opening Day this year. Plus, Robinson had a .401 on-base percentage.
On defense, Robinson cut his error total from seven errors in 70 games with the Buffalo Bison (Blue Jays’ AAA affiliate in 2013) to six errors in 99 games with Albuquerque. He does have some experience playing the outfield, but he is mainly a first baseman.
The question I think that comes to mind with this player is which Robinson the Nationals are getting. Keep in mind, the Pacific Coast League is known for being a hitter-friendly league. With Buffalo in 2013, Robinson struggled after being promoted from AA Hampshire. He hit a mere .213 in 35 games with two home runs and 12 RBI’s.
With the competition heating up for the triple-A first base job in Syracuse, Robinson has to at least be considered for this role. The lefty is on his fifth team, but anytime you can have numbers similar to a top prospect like Joc Pederson, it is worth it to give that player a second look. This signing was a good idea by the Nationals to see if they find a player who can continue that success from a season ago.