Derrick Robinson Adjusts To Life In The Pros

When the Kansas City Royals signed fourth round selection and University of Florida two-sport signee Derrick Robinson, the Gators lost a competitor at cornerback with tremendous acceleration and athleticism at a time when they desperately need to develop some depth.

As unfortunate as the Gators fortunes have been at cornerback, they're far from being in the same league as the hapless Kansas City Royals. The Royals organization, to put it kindly, is a mess. That is especially true of their farm system, which was among the better developmental programs in major league baseball just a few years ago.

Robinson, the Royals rookie league centerfielder, is currently holed up in Surprise, Arizona playing rookie ball.

"The big surprise when I got here was the weather," Robinson said, laughing. "I mean it's one-hundred degrees at night. I thought that I'd be able to deal with the dry heat. But, it's just too hot. You can't play here in the afternoon or at night. After being here, I've learned to enjoy the Florida weather."

The Royals rookie team (13-6) is currently one game behind the Giants in second place. For Robinson the buzz word has been adjust. He has had to completely adjust to his new life in professional baseball. Robinson is working to adjust his game, just as he continues to adjust to the brutal heat of the Arizona desert. He is hitting .211 in just sixteen games.

"It's very different," he said. "I get up at five o'clock in the morning, eat breakfast, and get to the field by six-thirty for warm-ups and practice. We play our games at ten-thirty in the morning. We have to get up and go early to beat the heat."

"The pitching is much better here," Robinson added. "They throw with a lot more speed. Their breaking balls are much better --- sliders, change-ups … we see it all now. They throw for strikes too, which is something I hadn't seen that much. It's just something that I have to continue adjusting to seeing. The coaches have told me to just hang in there, that I'll get it."

Anybody who has seen Robinson play knows that it's just a matter of time before he begins swinging the bat, improving his on-base percentage, and keeping the battery aware of his every move on the base paths.

He said that he'll play Instructional League ball and probably won't find out his next assignment until spring training. That, too, could get interesting. If you recall, Robinson blazed to a record setting 6.19 60-yard dash at the Perfect Game USA Camp. He was regarded as the fastest man in the recent Major League Baseball draft. The Royals acquired Joey Gathright from the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in June. Gathright is among the fastest men in the majors right now. Might a challenge might be in order when spring training convenes next February?

"I don't know about that," Robinson said laughing. "We'll see. He (Gathright) might be the fastest man at the big league level."

Note he said the big league level.

He and his teammates are living in a hotel. On off days Robinson said they usually relax and keep hydrated so they'll be fresh. It's just far too hot to try and get out to see those Surprise area attractions.

Robinson said that shortly after signing the Royals contract he spoke to Florida coaches Pat McMahon and Urban Meyer. He acknowledged that both coaches pretty much told him that they expected him to go early in the draft and sign. They both wished the former P.K. Yonge star the best. Robinson said that if the opportunity presents itself with his hectic schedule out west, he will be in "The Swamp" cheering on the Gators.

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