Rays’ Daniel Robertson Was Standing Out in a Crowded Biscuits Infield Before Injury

Daniel Robertson was so prized by the Oakland Athletics last season that when their Double-A team, the Midland Rockhounds, were battling for the Texas League title, the A’s sent Robertson up from High-A to help. Robertson did just that, helping the Rockhounds win a league title but, as he did that, got himself not only shipped out of town, but out of the A’s farm system.

Robertson, with the Double-A Montgomery Biscuits, was just coming out of a slump and a five-game hitless streak towards the end of May. He battled his way out and had hit safely in five of six games before a wrist injury sent him to the disabled list in early June. His been on the DL ever since.

On January 10 the Tampa Bay Rays acquired Robertson, along with Catcher John Jason and outfielder Boog Powell for Ben Zobrist and Ynel Escobar. Robertson, fresh off the plane, was immediately one of the top prospects in the Rays’ organization. He opened the season ranked No. 3.

“For me to be a younger guy to get thrown into that situation (last year),” Robertson told MLB back in spring training. “It taught me a lot. Winning the Double-A Texas League championship was awesome. It’s something I will never forget and it goes a long way. When you win championships in the minor leagues, it prepares you for those times in the big leagues.”

There was a reason the Rays wanted Robertson, even though they’ve got a crowded infield, especially at the Double-A level. Robertson hit .310 last season in High-A, but perhaps more importantly, committed just one error the entire season. In High-A ball a number like that is going to get noticed. Put it with a .300 batting average and a championship ring and decisions are going to be made.

Robertson’s natural position is either shortstop of second base. The A’s tried him out at third base in the Arizona Fall league before trading him, but just for a game. Robertson doesn’t seem to have the speed to play an outfield position, but can hold down either infield spot thanks to his instincts and ball skills. He has just four errors so far this season and a fielding percentage of .980 when he got hurt.

“I love playing shortstop,” Robertson said. “I’m not portrayed as the quickest guy down the line, but my instincts and the way I can read balls off the bat really helps me at that position. I try to model my game after (Colorado Rockies shortstop) Troy Tulowitski and (former Texas Rangers shortstop) Michael Young when he played short. That’s the guys. I want to play the game like them.”

When Robertson got hurt he’d pushed his batting average up to .272 with 15 doubles, four triples, three home runs and 32 RBIs in the 49 games he played in. The injury to his wrist, a broken hamate bone, can take four-to-six weeks to heal, so the Biscuits should have him back toward the end of July to make a second-half push in the Southern League North.

“I’ve come to realize what kind of player I am right now,” Robertson said. “It’s (the kind that) doesn’t try to do too much, stay to all fields. Hopefully when I mature and get older, maybe I can be the guy that powers the ball. Right now I understand my swing.”

Prospect Watch

With Robertson out, the Rays have emptied the bucket of middle infielders onto Montgomery’s roster. An injury to shortstop Jake Hager didn’t help. Currently, not counting guys on the DL, the Biscuits have four middle infielders with only 25-year-old Leonardo Reginatto making the case for playing time. Reginaatto has been with the Biscuits for 22 games after getting sent down from Triple-A Durham and is batting .337 with 14 RBIs, two home runs, a triple and five doubles with just one fielding error since joining the team.

About Adam Greene

Adam Greene is a writer and photographer based out of East Tennessee. His work has appeared in USA Today, the Associated Press, the Chicago Cubs Vineline Magazine, AskMen.com and many other publications.

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