Who the fcuk is Daniel Robertson?Every time I check the Tucson Padres' box score to see how my favorite Jason Bartlett-replacement candidate is doing, the above question pops into my mind.
So today, after three weeks of daily box-score perusing, I decided that perhaps this other guy who keeps getting on base is worth a click-through. Although he just appeared on my radar screen a matter of weeks ago, Daniel Robertson has been with the Padres' organization since 2008, when he set a short-season Northwest League record with 114 hits and was named league MVP. His OB% that year with Eugene was .443.
He moved up to low-A Ft. Wayne in 2009 and hit well (.296, .380 OB%). The following year in Lake Elsinore, he had similar numbers (.300, .375). Last year in double-A San Antonio, he had his worst year in professional ball, his average falling to .283 and his OB% to .370.
This year, Robertson leads triple-A Tucson with a .397 OB% and is tied with my favorite Jason Bartlett-replacement candidate with an average of .333.
Robertson scores runs, too. 59 during his short season with Eugene, 78 in Fort Wayne, 95 in Lake Elsinore and 97 last year in San Antonio.
So why had I never noticed this guy before? There are several reasons, I think.
--He has never hit for power. The most home runs he's had in a single year was six in Lake Elsinore (though he has never had fewer than 20 doubles a season).
--Neither does he put up gaudy stolen base numbers (20, 20, 30, 20). His success rate just isn't good, either.
--Robertson was drafted in the 33rd round of the 2008 draft, so probably nothing much was ever expected of him.
--He was drafted out of college, Oregon State, to be exact. So although he has kept hitting on every rung of the ladder, I'm sure there has been a tendency to shrug off his performances with the thought that he was doing it against much younger competition.
--He doesn't have the typical build of a pro athlete. He's 5-foot-8 and 175 pounds. So, again, probably a lot of evaluators hold that against him.
--He's an outfielder, mostly a center fielder. And the Padres have a lot of outfield prospects who were drafted much higher and get a lot more attention.
But here he is, knocking on the door.
That's not to say there's room for Daniel Robertson in Petco's outfield. Especially since Carlos Quentin is about to come off the DL. Cameron Maybin has a lock on the CF job despite struggling all year to stay above the O-Dog Line. Chris Denorfia and Mark Kotsay have been the best performers in the outfield. Jesus Guzman is an awesome pinch-hitter and plays seven positions. And Will Venable, despite his near-anemic hitting, does a lot of things well.
But perhaps we could see Daniel Robertson when the pennant race heats up and contenders start shopping for a veteran bat. At that point, Quentin, Denorfia, Kotsay and Venable might all have some market value. And the Padres will definitely be looking to sell.
And besides, if Alexi Amarista is "really close" to being major-league ready, as the Padres are saying, then Robertson is even closer.