After drafting only a handful of players out of high school and signing only one last year, the Oakland A's demonstrated early on in the 2012 draft that their class was going to take on a different look this season. On day one of the draft, the A's had three picks and all three were spent on high school players. The second of those three picks was shortstop Daniel Robertson, a sweet-swinging infielder from Southern California.
Robertson made a name for himself starring for Upland High School. As a senior, Robertson batted .560 with a .696 OBP and a 1.000 SLG. He hit six homeruns. Robertson also utilized his strong arm on the mound as a reliever for his high school.
Scout.com Frankie Piliere believes that Robertson has a high ceiling as a hitter.
"Robertson is a highly athletic player," Piliere said.
"There's some rawness to him at the plate, but the bat speed jumps off of the page and he consistently drives the ball to the gap. If he learns to lift, there's home run power there."
When the A's announced Robertson's name at the 34th pick, they introduced him as a shortstop. However, the A's spent their number one overall pick on another high school shortstop (Addison Russell), so there was draft-day speculation that Robertson would move off of the shortstop position to third base so that both he and Russell could share the same infield. Robertson has experience playing all around the infield, so a move to a different position shouldn't be an issue should the A's decide to go in that direction.
Robertson has a commitment to play baseball at UCLA, but he has expressed a desire to jump to professional ball. We caught-up with Robertson two days after he was selected to find out whether he plans to sign, how he describes himself as a hitter, where he is comfortable in the field and more…
OaklandClubhouse: Congratulations on being selected so high in the draft. It must have been exciting when you got that phone call.
Daniel Robertson: Oh, yeah, it was a pretty amazing phone call. I was just so blessed and happy, it was really and truly an awesome experience.
OC: Did you have any inkling that the A's would be calling you at that point in the draft, or was it a complete surprise?
DR: I knew they were interested. Seconds before the A's had the 34th pick, I saw my area scout call me from the A's and I knew they had gotten me. It was pretty awesome.
OC: Had you had a lot of contact with the A's area scout in the lead-up to the draft?
DR: Yeah, he had been in contact. I saw the call so I knew it was a good one leading up to the pick. [laughs]
OC: Are you very familiar with the A's organization?
DR: Yeah. I'm pretty familiar with them. I've seen the movie ‘Moneyball' and I know that it is a young and upcoming club. I'm truly blessed to be a part of it. And we'll see what we can do.
OC: You are from Southern California. Did you grow up a Dodgers or Angels fan?
DR: Mostly as an Angels fan. I kind of grew up watching the Angels because they are so close to my home so it was easy for me to go to games.
OC: Will it be easy to be a rival of theirs if it came to that?
DR: Oh definitely. It would be awesome to come down to Southern California to play wearing an A's uniform and hopefully kick their butts.
OC: How would you describe yourself as a hitter?
DR: I would say right now, I'm a gap-to-gap, line-drive hitter with a very solid approach. I have a short, compact swing. An aggressive swing. I think the power will come as I mature. I think I'll hit for average and be a line-drive type guy with power.
OC: Have you had much experience with wood bats?
DR: Yeah, I have been using wood bats in the summer. During the high school season, I used aluminum bats, but right after that I used the wood bats.
OC: So it should be a pretty easy transition for you?
OC: Defensively, you've been primarily a shortstop, I believe. Have you played elsewhere around the diamond?
DR: Actually, my first two years at my high school, I played third base because there was always another shortstop there. During the summer I moved around. I played second, first, short, third. At the start of my third year of high school, I said ‘coach, I want to play shortstop.' That kind of filled a hole [for the team]. It worked out great for me to be at shortstop. Some of the clubs liked me there. I'm definitely also comfortable playing third, second or even coming in out of the bullpen. [laughs] Wherever they put me will be fine.
OC: Did they talk to you at all about where you might play if you did sign? If you would be in Arizona or Vermont?
DR: I will know the next couple of days.
OC: Are you leaning towards signing at this point then?
DR: Yes, I am. I'm really excited. That's what I want to do. It's my dream, as I'm sure it is for a lot of people. I've always wanted to be a professional baseball player. I'm planning to sign pretty soon.
OC: What is the biggest challenge that you are anticipating in being a professional baseball player?
DR: I don't know that there is a specific challenge. I know it is an everyday grind and that you have just work through it. I'm looking forward to it.