He's Not Jackie But He Could Be A Good One

      On Sunday all of baseball will pause to pay tribute to Jackie Robinson on the 60th anniversary of his breaking the color barrier in the big leagues. The Dodgers, naturally, will take the lead in that for Jackie was their very own. It would be fitting to look into their minor leagues to see if, just maybe, there's another one like him working his way upward.

     There is, indeed, a Robinson playing for Great Lakes. He's related to Jackie only in the sense that all African-American  professional athletes have a bond to the man who blazed a trail so wide and deep for them to follow. For it would be unfair to the greatest degree to say that Trayvon Robinson could be the "next Jackie".

   No, no one could bear that title, no matter how gifted for Jackie was extraordinary. He was every bit the man that Branch Rickey felt he had to have to bear such a burden and quite probably a much better player than anyone dared hope. Trayvon does have some talent that may well take him to the big leagues some day and that should be enough of a label.

    His main gift is speed. Some will refer to him as the fastest man in the organization but that crown is not one he's currently wearing for Jovanny Rosario defeated him in a Dodgertown race and Lyndon Poole has since come on the scene to challenge. It was a loss by the narrowest of margins, though for Trayvon can fly.

   That swiftness already has gained him a niche in the memory book they're building for the brand new Great Lakes franchise. He's the leadoff man for the Loons and, as such, got their first base hit ever- a bunt single. That's extra pleasing to the Dodgers who've been working with him on that art  as well as hitting down on the ball to take advantage of the way he motors.

   This Robinson spent his first two years as a Dodger playing for the Gulf Coast team. He hit .296 as a rookie, then .254 last year  which may cause you to feel he's regressed. Not so for after that initial year they made him a switch-hitter to again take advantage of his speed. It's not surprising therefor that he spent a good part of 2006 groping from the left side.

  He came on though and has demonstrated much more assurance from that side this spring. He even shows some pop when he hits that way although power is never going to be his game. But let him hit a gapper and three bases is a guarantee.

    He's also moved to center field, a spot he didn't occupy formerly. Nor was he usually a leadoff man in the past. The fact that he's doing both and looking comfortable is a sign of how he's maturing as a player.

  He's only 20 years old, having signed out of Crenshaw High in L.A. as a 10th round draft pick in 2005. He was a bit unhappy last year when left in the Gulf Coast instead of moving up to Ogden as he expected to. But he's over that now and playing right at the level where he should.

  So, no, he's not going to be another Jackie but he well could be a Dodger named Robinson in the future. And that would be a fitting  example of the legacy of Jackie. 

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