The deadline to set 40-man rosters in preparation of the Rule 5 draft ended Tuesday afternoon. The Arizona Diamondbacks only elected to protect one player, that being pitching prospect Blake Walston. However, one of the more interesting players the Snakes left off their 40-man roster was outfielder Kristian Robinson, who will now be exposed to the draft. But what are the chances the D-Backs lose him?
Born in the Bahamas, Robinson looked like a potential budding star in the D-Backs system in 2019. He had made it to A-Ball at just 18 and had an OPS of .881. Going into 2020, he was a consensus top 100 prospect before his 20th birthday. However, an assault on a police officer charge led to visa issues. While no minor leaguer got a chance to play in 2020, Robinson also wouldn’t participate in the 2021 season, or 2022 campaign, for that matter.
However, Robinson returned to baseball in late May of this past season. He did not look back upon his return, as he finished out the 2023 season batting .283/.383/.532 with a .411 wOBA and 140 wRC+. Robinson hit 14 home runs in just 272 plate appearances, a pace that would have given him 31 in 600 plate appearances. He was ultra-aggressive on the basepaths, attempting a stolen base 30 times and being successful in 23 attempts. Robinson walked at a 10.7% rate but struck out at a 31.6% pace as well. Robinson made it to Double-A, and while he only appeared in five games, he also hit two home runs.
The right-handed hitter has a ton of raw power but strikes out more than you’d like to see. Sure, there is some rust to shake off, but he still had a 26.5% K-rate in 2019 prior to the off-field issues that caused him to miss over three years. He’s also an above-average runner with an outstanding arm. Plus, he can play a good center field. He has four potential plus tools between his power, run, fielding, and arm. His hit tool, as of right now, projects as fringy.
Robinson has a high ceiling, given his outstanding four tools. However, he has barely any playing time in Double-A. Not too many players, especially position players, who have little to no experience above High-A get selected. His strikeouts are also a risk, and that might turn some teams away. Of course, teams risk nothing by selecting someone like Robinson. If he pans out, great, they just got a surprise long-term player. If he doesn’t, they only wasted a Rule 5 pick, which happens a lot.
It’s much harder to predict the Rule 5 draft compared to the amateur draft. However, I doubt that Robinson will get selected. If the first few teams do not take him, I doubt any other team will. While it would be hard to find a player in the Rule 5 draft with a higher ceiling than Robinson, there are definitely players who have proven themselves at Double-A and Triple-A who may attract more attention.