Oakland A's Prospect Q&A: Richie Robnett, OF

Since he was selected in the first round of the 2004 draft, Richie Robnett has been considered the prospect with the most raw power in the Oakland A's system. Robnett's development has been gradual, but he has shown flashes of being that power-hitting/good-fielding outfielder that he was projected to be when he was selected. We caught-up with the Midland outfielder last week to discuss his season.

Richie Robnett has been the Midland Rockhounds' top run producer this season. The powerful left-handed hitter leads the Rockhounds in homeruns (12), runs batted in (52) and doubles (28) and he is second on the team in runs scored (51). Robnett also leads the team with six outfield assists. After missing more than 50 games during the second half of last season with a broken hamate bone, Robnett has been healthy and he leads the team in games played with 86.

Robnett's efforts this season were rewarded recently with a spot in the Texas League All-Star Game as a starting outfielder. He made a big impact on the game, smacking a two-run homer off of former first round pick Luke Hochevar.

We spoke to Robnett about his efforts to improve as a player, his goals for the rest of the season and more…

OaklandClubhouse: Congratulations on making the All-Star team and hitting a home run in the game. What was that experience like for you?

Richie Robnett: Oh, thank you. It was really exciting just going to the All-Star Game and having all those fans there. I had my parents there and my girlfriend was there. It was really great to be playing with some of the best players in this league. It was a privilege just to make the team.

OC: The homerun came off of former number one pick Luke Hochevar, I believe. It must have been a thrill to hit a homer off of a big name like that.

RR: Oh, definitely.

OC: Had you faced him before?

RR: Yeah, we had faced him during the regular season with Wichita, so I already knew what he had a little bit.

OC: How do you feel like this season is going for you? I know you only had a short taste of Double-A last year before you broke your hand. Do you feel like the transition from High-A has been smooth for you?

RR: Definitely. I got hurt last year, like you said, so coming into this season, I kind of had to find it again, find the things that were making me successful last season. I think the transition went well. I haven't felt over-matched here. I am still learning the game and learning what I am good at and what I am not in terms of hitting. It has been a good process and I feel like I have been getting better as the days go on.

OC: Has it been helpful to have a lot of the same coaching staff that you had in Stockton the last two years?

RR: Yeah, I guess because it makes you more comfortable, I guess you could say, but at the same time, I guess you don't want to get too comfortable because then it can backfire on you. Me and my manager Todd [Steverson, who also managed Robnett in Stockton], we get along really well and we understand each other. I understand him and I understand what he tries to teach me. He can explain stuff in a way that I can understand, so I think that is a benefit for me.

OC: You got a little bit of time in the Arizona Fall League last off-season and you hit really well. Did that help you get back into the swing of things after being hurt?

RR: Yeah. I was actually down in Arizona after I broke my hand and I was doing my rehab and everything down there and I started getting some at-bats in Instructional League. Then when I went over to the Arizona Fall League, that was really fun. They say that that is the highest level of competition that you can face before the big leagues. It was great just to be able to play with those players and it was a bit of a confidence-booster, too, to know that I can play with those guys because it is really nothing different. I thought that was a good deal.

OC: How was your experience playing in the Mexican Winter League?

RR: It was different down there. I was having a tough time adjusting to their style of play. The game is really backwards in terms of how they approach playing the game as opposed to how we play here. For instance, the pitchers, they only really want to throw off-speed pitches instead of mixing with fastballs and they've got good off-speed stuff. The game is a lot slower there, so that was an adjustment for me, too. The umpires are not really that good. [laughs]

It was an adjustment that I didn't really make while I was down there because I was still really trying to practice my approach and what is going to work for me here. That approach didn't really work for me there, but it was still a good experience just to go down there and experience it. It was interesting to go to a lot of different cities in Mexico – cities that I hadn't even heard of. It is always nice to experience different stuff.

OC: You've spent some time in big league camp during spring training. How has that experience helped you in your career?

RR: I think it has helped me greatly because you can go there and see how those guys go about their business as far as their pre-game approach and how they take batting practice and how they warm-up on the field. All of that stuff is important and you can just watch them and learn. They are really great guys up there. They are always willing to help. Mark Kotsay especially. He is always willing to try to show you something and if you ask him something, he is always going to answer you the best that he can. I also think that it is really great to go up there and have the coaches see you a little bit and have them see how you play and stuff like that.

OC: I know you have played a little bit of rightfield and center during your career. Is there one position that you prefer?

RR: It used to just be centerfield where I felt most comfortable, but recently I have been having the chance to play more right and I like it. It is a lot more fun for me to throw from rightfield, but, then again, I like chasing down balls in centerfield, too. I like to be able to cover a lot of ground. When you are playing a corner, you have to give the ball to the centerfielder when he wants it and you really want it [laughs].

I've really been getting a lot more comfortable in all of the positions in the outfield and that was one of the things that Todd was trying to expose us to this year. He was trying to move us around in the outfield because he said that if you get called up, you never you where they are going to need you: if you are going to play left, if you are going to play center or if you are going to play right. He really wants us to be comfortable in every position.

OC: Do you have any goals that you have set for the second half of the season?

RR: Honestly, the main goal is that you want to get a September call-up. Really, though, I just want to be able to come out of this season and say that I am better than when I started. You can't control the moves that the organization makes or anything like that so you just want to keep getting better and look at the big picture and not look just at now. So that is really my main goal: to be a better baseball player than when the season started.

OC: I know that last off-season would have been the off-season that you would have had to be added to the 40-man roster [or the A's would risk exposing him in the Rule 5 draft] under the old rules. Now that is going to be this off-season. Is a 40-man roster spot something that you have thought a lot about this season?

RR: Yeah, definitely, it has gone through my head. I would love to be added to the 40-man roster.

Actually, if you want to talk about goals, one of my goals is to play my best to maybe show another team that I could be on their 40-man roster, if it doesn't work out with the A's. That is really what I want to play for. I want to play hard every day so that in the off-season when teams need to add guys to the 40-man roster or take guys off or when the Rule 5 draft comes, teams will be able to say, "you know what, we like Richie as a player." So that is definitely a big goal of mine.

Oakland Clubhouse Top Stories