Los Angeles Dodgers prospect Trayvon Robinson is having a terrific campaign in Triple-A Is this is a Pacific Coast League/Albuquerque illusion?
Trayvon Robinson was drafted by the Dodgers in the 10th round in 2005, from Crenshaw High School in Los Angeles. He was quite raw when drafted and didn't get out of rookie ball until 2007, when he hit .253/.314/.311 in 110 games for Great Lakes in the Midwest League. This was weak performance, although he did steal 22 bases. Moved up to Inland Empire in the California League in '08, he hit .276/.328/.385 with 22 steals, then returned to the same team in '09 and improved substantially, hitting .306/.376/.500 with 43 steals and 15 homers.
Robinson spent 2010 with Double-A Chattanooga, hitting .300/.404/.438 with nine homers, 73 walks, 38 steals, and 125 strikeouts in 434 at-bats. In 95 games for Triple-A Albuquerque this year, Robinson is hitting .303/.380/.584 with 26 homers, 43 walks, and 113 strikeouts in 353 at-bats. Overall in his career, he's a .285/.359/.438 hitter.
A 5-10, 200 pound switch-hitter, Robinson was a speedster with little power earlier in his career. His power output has steadily improved, although the 26 homers his year looks somewhat fluky to me, given that he's hit just nine doubles. Albuquerque is a great place to hit, but his home/road splits are almost even: .974 OPS at home, .952 on the road, so the home park isn't completely responsible for this. The PCL itself is great for hitting in general, of course, so the entire context itself has some inflation involved. Applying an Major League Equivalent translation to his numbers gives us an approximate .240/.310/.430 line slash line playing in Dodger Stadium and the National League.
Robinson has good bat speed from both sides of the plate, but is aggressive and strikes out frequently. He'll take walks and knows how to work a count, but scouts say he sometimes sells out his hitting approach for power, which has worked in Triple-A but might cause problems once major league pitchers see him a few times. Although he's stolen just eight bases this year, he has plus speed. His technique still needs some refinement, but he should get into double-digit steals in the majors if given the green light often enough. His arm is below average, but he has enough range to handle center field and is even more effective when used in left field.
Robinson's power/speed combination is highly intriguing, but if the MLE translation listed above is remotely accurate, we shouldn't expect him to replicate the .300 batting average at the major league level, at least in the short run. He is still just 23 years old, and given the great improvement in his skills over the last four years, I think Robinson has a good chance to make the necessary adjustments for major league success.