Yes, even the big spending Los Angeles Dodgers can have under the radar guys. A quick glance at the roster, and second base looks like a clear spot for someone to grab a surprise job due to the poor reports on Alexander Guerrero and the other option being Dee Gordon, but there is actually an interesting candidate to get some time at first base, and his name is Clint Robinson.
When watching Robinson yesterday, I couldn’t help but think he looked tall and a little awkward, but he just is 6’5″ with a long body. I say just 6’5″ as I am 6’4″ and the opposing first baseman of the Oakland A’s was 6’8″ Nate Freiman. In addition to having the size that can play really well at first base, he has a pretty swing from the left side of the plate.
Robinson has never been much of a prospect, taken in the 25th round of the 2007 draft as a college senior by the Kansas City Royals out of Troy University, but he has hit his whole minor league career. In his seven minor league seasons, he has stepped to the plate over 3,300 times, and has a career batting average better than .300 and an OPS of .884.
Coming up through the Royals system, he has been stuck behind Eric Hosmer, Billy Butler, and the ultimate tease of minor league production, Kila Ka’aihue. He finally got a cup of coffee in 2012, where he got a grand total of four at-bats, all as a pinch hitter where he managed no hits and two strikeouts.
After the 2012 season he was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates, along with the infamous Vin Mazzaro who once gave up 14 earned runs in 2 1/3 innings, in exchange for a pair of minor leaguers. He was placed on waivers at the end of Spring Training, and was claimed by the Toronto Blue Jays. Six different players saw time at first base for the Blue Jays last season, but Robinson spent his time between Double-A and Triple-A where he hit 13 home runs and reached base at a better than .350 clip, but his average dropped below .290 for just the second time in his career, and was granted free agency this off-season.
Now Robinson is in big league camp with the Dodgers and has virtually no chance of breaking camp with the club due to Adrian Gonzalez firmly entrenched as the first baseman, and Scott Van Slyke a solid backup option who can also play the corner outfield. Robinson will likely head to Albuquerque, where his bat should play well and his power numbers will likely shine. He should make the trip to Los Angeles at some point this season though, and he has a real chance to earn himself a spot as a solid left-handed power bat off the bench and backup first baseman.