Results tagged ‘ Daniel Robertson ’
Daniel Robertson has been a constant in the Durham Bulls’ lineup all season long. Watch how the 22-year-old infielder preps for gameday.
After a whirlwind few months of fall ball, being traded, and trying to get to know his new teammates and coaches, Daniel Robertson finally got a chance to take a step back and process everything that had happened.
Unfortunately, that opportunity to clear his head didn’t come under the best circumstances.
Robertson came to the Tampa Bay Rays organization from the Oakland Athletics in a blockbuster five-player trade that centered around Ben Zobrist in January 2015. But the way that Robertson found out about the trade was unorthodox.
“I had been on vacation and got home a day before the trade,” he said. “I had lost my phone on vacation, so I had my iPad, that was the only thing that was working, and I found out through Twitter. My agent, everybody was trying to get ahold of me, and they had no way to know my phone had been lost.”
Robertson, Boog Powell and John Jaso came over to the Rays for Zobrist and Yunel Escobar, and while he was perhaps the biggest name coming back over to the Rays, Robertson didn’t feel any extra pressure.
“I was honored and humbled to be in that trade with the great Ben Zobrist, who everyone speaks highly of over here,” Robertson said. “I don’t think there was any pressure. Maybe early on it was just a change of scenery and getting to know new people. But now I’m settled in and familiar with everything, familiar with my teammates and what this organization does. I’ve settled in nicely. I can just relate this time last year to now, I’m totally more relaxed and having fun playing the game than I was.”
The 22-year-old infielder has proven himself so far in Triple-A in 2016, his first year at the highest minor league level. Robertson is hitting .267, the best batting average of any Bulls player who hadn’t played in Triple-A before, and has raised his batting average 53 points since May 1st.
He was batting similarly well in May of 2015, his first taste of Double-A, but had endured some cold streaks early on.
Then, in early June 2015, his first season in the Rays’ system was put on ice.
“It was definitely something I did not see happening,” he said. “It was a fluky thing, I fouled a pitch off and felt something go wrong.”
Robertson broke his hamate bone in his wrist, knocking him out for almost two months of play, which can be devastating to a young player who needs every at-bat to learn and develop.
“It wasn’t what I envisioned happening, but it’s all part of baseball,” Robertson said. “It was kind of a blessing in disguise to sit back, relax and take a deep breath, because I was trying to do too many things at once my first year in the organization. It gave me a chance to restart and regroup, and it’s been good ever since.”
With that revitalization, Robertson came back with 10 hits in his first 10 games back in August 2015 with Montgomery. Then he exploded for eight hits in three days.
That fall, he returned to the Arizona Fall League for a second stint in as many seasons, focused on getting in the at-bats he had lost due to injury. But he also picked up some extra reps at second base, a position he hadn’t played with any frequency in years.
“It was cool, I was out there with [Montgomery Manager] Dan DeMent, we were working every day at second base,” Robertson said. “It just kind of made me a little more valuable, a little more versatile. It actually helped me out this year because I’ve been playing a lot of third and second, and now with Motter in the big leagues I’m getting a little more time at short. I like moving around, if something happens and they need a guy somewhere, I’m comfortable playing all three spots.”
Now that he is settled in with the Rays, Robertson has returned to his baseball roots, in a way. Growing up, he played all over the field, but settled into third and shortstop in high school. He played the majority of his games at shortstop between High-A and Double-A, but played almost as much at third and second base in the early part of this season.
“It wasn’t until my High-A year I only played shortstop alongside [current Chicago Cubs shortstop] Addison Russell,” Robertson said, “I mean, I love playing short, and I can see myself playing there. I’ve put a lot of hard work in with the guys over here and when I was with Oakland to try to stay there, but like I said, I’m happy to be on the field, wherever gets me in the lineup.”
Robertson also got to know some of the other players in the Rays’ system when he was invited to big league spring training for the second time. He had played in a few games of major league spring training with Oakland, but didn’t get his first invite until he was with Tampa Bay.
Last season, that invite helped him meet some of the coaches who would be deciding his future, and the players he might end up alongside one day. This season, he got to know some of the guys who are in the majors a little better.
“You never know with a call-up or anything I won’t be a fish out of water, I’ll know some guys and be pretty comfortable,” Robertson said. “[Steven] Souza had us over at his house a couple times, he was very welcoming, [Logan] Forsythe was awesome, and obviously I talked a lot to [Evan] Longoria and stuff like that. They’re all very approachable, and even Brad Miller, in his first year over here, I met him the first day and he knew my whole history like he had known me forever. That’s just cool to see guys like that with big league experience and being able to talk to them like someone you played with for 10 years.”
Aside from learning and re-learning positions, Robertson has focused this season on being more consistent at the plate. He’s always been known for his solid batting average, but Robertson thinks he can do more.
“I’m just trying to simplify everything. I’ve been streaky a little bit,” he noted. “I don’t want to be hot for a week and then totally go MIA. I want to be that consistent player everyday who shows up.”
Now that he is settled in with the organization and at the Triple-A level, Robertson is already laying the foundation so he can quickly settle in and be ready for a big league call-up.
It only comes once a year. Today, as we sit just a little more than a month away from pitchers and catchers reporting to Port Charlotte, Fla. for Spring Training, we examine the state of Durham Bulls baseball. Over the next 10 weeks the Rays’ (and therefor the Bulls’) rosters will take a more defined shape, whether by trades, free agency or other. For now though, we take a look at who could be bound for Durham come early April.
As is typical for Tampa Bay, the starting rotation is strong and young. Headlined by Chris Archer and complimented by Jake Odorizzi, Matt Moore, Drew Smyly and Erasmo Ramirez, the Rays’ staff seems fairly stable. So what does this mean for Durham? First things first, Blake Snell could make a run at the big league staff. He’ll be just 23 this year, but coming off a historic 2015 campaign will earn him a good look in camp. If he doesn’t make the squad, expect him to take the ball on Opening Night for the Bulls. Behind him in that rotation could be Jake Faria and Taylor Guerrieri, two right-handers who were added to the Rays’ 40-man roster back in November. Behind those three the rotation isn’t so clear, with a number of options. Burch Smith and Grayson Garvin are expected to return from injury at some point in 2016, and both have been starters in the past. Additionally Jaime Schultz went 9-5 in 27 starts for Double-A Montgomery last season at age 24, while Ryne Stanek – a 2013 first round pick – made 16 appearances for the Biscuits in 2015. Righty Austin Pruitt posted a 3.09 ERA for Montgomery last year, and Jared Mortensen joined Durham over the final week of the 2015 season, winning both his starts. One unknown is where Dylan Floro fits in, after he spent much of last season in Durham’s rotation but finished the year in the bullpen. Additionally, if Tampa Bay decides to keep Matt Andriese as a starter, expect him to open the year in Durham to stay on a regular routine. The righty was dominant for the Bulls last season, but split the entire year shuttling between North Carolina and Florida as both a starter and long reliever.
A veteran relief corps could begin the year in the Bull City. Signed before the 2015 season, Jonny Venters and Neil Wagner each sat out all last year with injuries, but each have significant MLB time. Dana Eveland and Tyler Sturdevant were each picked up as a minor league free agents, and Danny Farquhar was acquired in a trade with Seattle. Most likely to return is Jhan Marinez, a 2015 IL Midseason All-Star who went 4-1 with a 1.92 ERA for the Bulls in his first year in the Rays system. On the younger side, Andrew Bellatti, who opened 2015 in Durham, had a lot of success at the big league level with Tampa Bay but struggled at the Triple-A level. Parker Markel, who’s fastball reaches the high 90s, could open the year in Durham after a call-up late last season, and he could be joined by Brad Schreiber, who saved 30 games between Advanced-A and Double-A last year.
After his promotion last summer, Curt Casali took the reins as Tampa Bay’s number one catcher. Rene Rivera appears to be the backup, but Hank Conger was acquired for cash and Luke Maile played well in his first taste of the bigs in September. Expect the Rays to open the season with Casali and Rivera, leaving Maile and Conger for the Bulls. Don’t forget about Justin O’Conner though, one of the best defensive catchers in the minors and a member of the Rays’ 40-man roster.
The Rays infield has had a little bit of a shakeup so far this offseason, acquiring shortstop Brad Miller to replace Asdrubal Cabrera, who signed with the New York Mets. Other than that Evan Longoria will play third, Logan Forsythe second and James Loney first. Assuming the team carries no more than two infield backups, it would appear Tim Beckham and Logan Morrison would have the inside track. On the Durham front, that would mean Richie Shaffer, Ryan Brett and Taylor Motter (all 40-man players) would return to the Bulls to open the year. Still, Durham could also see 22-year-old Daniel Robertson open the year at shortstop after a solid first year at the Double-A level. Tampa Bay also has 2015 Southern League All-Star Cameron Seitzer who can play first base, along with Kyle Roller, an East Carolina University product that hit 14 home runs for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last year.
Brandon Guyer, Desmond Jennings, Kevin Kiermaier and Steven Souza Jr. all have secured spots on Tampa Bay’s roster. The big question is whether or not Mikie Mahtook will make the big league Opening Day roster after hitting .356 with four homers in 23 games last September. If not, expect him and Motter (who can play infield and outfield) to hit in the top third of Durham’s lineup. After Tyler Goeddel and Joey Rickard were taken in the Rule 5 draft, Tampa Bay’s minor league outfield depth has shortened some. Still, 20-year-old Jake Bauers has a chance to make Durham’s squad after hitting .276 across 69 Double-A games last season, after opening the year with Advanced-A Charlotte. Additionally Johnny Field, another prospect, could make his way to the Bull City as well after tallying 14 homers and swiping 18 bags for the Biscuits last year.
Aside from the bullpen, the 2016 Bulls squad is shaping up to be very young. Still, with plenty of time left between now and the beginning of April, expect Tampa Bay to round out the roster with some veteran additions.
On Friday our friends at Baseball America published their annual list of the Tampa Bay Rays’ Top 10 prospects. Here we take a look at who made that list, and if/when they’ll make an impact on the Durham Bulls.
1. Blake Snell
Named Baseball America’s and USA Today’s Minor League Player of the Year, Snell had an unreal season. You can read about it here or here, so we’ll skip that part. The real question is whether or not the 23-year-old will open the 2016 season in the Bull City or with Tampa Bay. Coming off the year he had, it’s not crazy to expect him to start the year at the big league level. Don’t forget though, the Rays still have a stacked pitching staff, and they might want to limit Snell’s innings by keeping him in the minors to start the year.
2. Willy Adames
A key piece in the David Price trade in July of 2014, Adames is still just 20 years old. The shortstop hit .258 with Advanced-A Charlotte this season, and projects to spend the majority of 2016 with Double-A Montgomery. Still, with a strong campaign there, a late-season promotion to Durham might not be out of the question.
3. Brent Honeywell
A 2nd-round pick in 2014, Honeywell will turn 21 just before Opening Day 2016. This past season he combined to go 9-6 with a 3.18 ERA between Single-A and Advanced-A, striking out almost a batter an inning. He’s received notoriety for his effective screwball, but is most likely still a season away from reaching the Triple-A level.
4. Jake Bauers
Picked up by the Rays in the same deal that saw Tampa Bay ship Wil Myers to San Diego, Bauers had a strong first season in the Rays’ system, hitting .272 with 11 homers and 74 RBI between Advanced-A Charlotte and Double-A Montgomery. After the season, the former 7th-round pick was selected to the Arizona Fall League Rising Stars team. Though he’ll spend the entire 2016 season at age 20, it’s not crazy to think he could join the Bulls at some point after hitting .276 over 69 games in Double-A this past season.
5. Garrett Whitley
Whitley was the 13th overall pick the 2015 draft, and struggled in his first foray into professional baseball as he hit just .174 between the Gulf Coast League and Short-Season Hudson Valley. He’s just 18 years old, so don’t expect him in Durham for the next couple of seasons.
6. Mikie Mahtook
After he was Durham’s MVP in 2014, Mahtook shuttled back-and-forth between the Bulls and Rays throughout the 2015 campaign. Upon being called up for the rest of the year in September, the 26-year-old rattled off a strong month, and finished the season with a .295 average and nine homers at the big league level. Mahtook will compete for a spot on Tampa Bay’s Opening Day roster in Spring Training.
7. Taylor Guerrieri
After missing almost all of 2014 recovering from Tommy John surgery, Guerrieri came back with a strong campaign in 2015. As the Rays limited his innings, the 2011 1st-round pick was 5-3 with a 1.85 ERA between Charlotte and Montgomery. The Rays added him to their 40-man roster in November, and he projects to start 2016 with the Bulls.
8. Jacob Faria
Faria, 22, split the 2015 season between Charlotte and Montgomery, going 17-4 with a 1.92 ERA and leading all of Minor League Baseball in wins. A 10th-round pick in 2011, the right-hander should start the year in the Bull City coming off a year in which he struck out more batters than innings pitched.
9. Casey Gillaspie
The 20th overall pick in the 2014 draft, Gillaspie spent the majority of 2015 with Bowling Green, while appearing in 13 games for Charlotte. The 22-year-old showed good power this season by cracking 17 home runs, but is still most likely a year away from joining the Bulls.
10. Daniel Robertson
Acquired from Oakland in the trade that sent Ben Zobrist to the A’s, Robertson missed almost half of the 2015 campaign after suffering a broken hamate bone. Still, the 21-year-old hit .274 and drove in 41 in 78 games for Montgomery. The shortstop, taken 34th overall in 2012, projects to spend significant time with the Bulls in 2016, if not begin the year in Durham.