The reality was reinforced in Peoria, Arizona recently when I approached Shane Robinson from the rear as he was sitting all alone on the stool in front of his locker in the Saguaros clubhouse.
As he turned to respond, I noticed a large box on the outfielder's lap. It was a combination care package and presents from the folks back home in Florida. After all, it was his 24th birthday.
A short while after I backed off, leaving Robinson to open his presents and reflect, he called me back over to talk. Of all the St. Louis Cardinals prospects competing in the Arizona Fall League this year, I was most intrigued by this player.
Robinson had been the most unexpected surprise of the early part of the 2008 St. Louis Cardinals minor league season. Coming off a .253/.321/.355 (BA/OBP/SLG) close to his 2007 with Palm Beach, expectations for the 2006 fifth-rounder coming into 2008 were murky. In fact, he hadn't registered a vote in our Cardinals top 40 prospect lists in either of his two professional seasons.
In 2008, all the then-23-year-old did was rip apart Double-A pitching, batting a cool .352 on the way to a well-deserved Texas League All-Star berth. Hitting .410 in April, Robinson was the organization's Player of the Month as well as our winner here at The Birdhouse and kept going, winning the Texas League Player of the Week for the period ending May 11.
Though he cooled off a bit prior to his late-June promotion to Memphis, Robinson did not dwell on the fact he was bothered much of the season by a strained oblique. That could help explain his rough introduction to Triple-A, during which he batted just .220.
The Cardinals organization reinforced their support of Robinson by not only sending him to the Arizona Fall League, but also designating him as their "priority player", which means the outfielder is assured of starting regularly.
The 5-foot-9, 160-pounder was listed in the AFL program and media guides as a robust 6-foot-2, 185 pounds. While that is clearly in error, Robinson does play big.
With the Arizona Fall League's Peoria Saguaros, Robinson has particularly excelled at getting on base and swiping bags. Through 19 games and 80 at-bats, his line is .275/.394/.425 and he is a perfect 8-for-8 in stolen base attempts.
In this exclusive audio interview, Robinson discusses his motivations, his injuries, his knowledge of his role, how he plans to improve and much more.
Robinson on offense
Previous AFL interviews:
Manager Ron "Pop" Warner.
RHSP Adam Ottavino
LHRP Brad Furnish
LHRP Justin Fiske
Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com.
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