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KC calls up slugging prospect Robinson

KC calls up slugging prospect Robinson
PITTSBURGH -- At the moment the Royals were announcing the start of pitcher Kyle Zimmer's professional journey, first baseman Clint Robinson was marking the pinnacle of his six-season trek to the team's Major League roster.

While Zimmer's signing press conference was going on Thursday inside Kauffman Stadium, Robinson was stepping onto a bus outside the stadium to join his Kansas City teammates for the flight to Pittsburgh.

In a move that becomes effective on Friday, Robinson was called up from Triple-A Omaha to give the Royals another bat off the bench for the Interleague series against the Pirates. Left-hander pitcher Ryan Verdugo, who spent just two games in KC without playing, was optioned back to the Storm Chasers.

"I found out last night about 10, 10:30, got a call from [director of Minor League operations] Scott Sharp who said, 'Hey, you're going to the big leagues,'" Robinson said, dressed in a suit to join the traveling party. "I hadn't heard anything about it before. I'd heard rumblings that there was going to be a position player moved from reading on the Internet, but nobody said anything to me until last night."

A left-handed power hitter, Robinson is looking forward to his big league debut at age 27. He was drafted in 2007 after his senior year at Troy University and has moved steadily up the organization chain, advancing a level each year.

In 2010 with Northwest Arkansas, he won the Texas League Triple Crown with a .335 average, 29 home runs and 98 RBIs. He had big numbers last year, too, with Omaha -- .326, 23 homers and 100 RBIs.

"Sometimes there's more to it than numbers. Sometimes it's more about opportunities," Robinson said. "With the strong Drafts that we've had with guys like [Mike] Moustakas and [Eric] Hosmer, it's kind of hard to find a spot for a 25th-round senior signing. You've got a guy you've signed for millions of dollars who's playing really well, that's just the business of the game. So you just kind of have to bide your time and be patient and keep showing them that I'm still here, I'm doing well. ... Not everybody's going to skyrocket like all the first-round guys."

With Interleague Play returning to Kansas City for three games against Milwaukee with the designated hitter back in the picture, there's no guarantee that Robinson will stay on the roster. However, the fact that the following two series will be at St. Louis and Houston should work in his favor.

"This is one of those things I've done my whole career," Robinson said. "I'm going to go where they tell me to go and play where they tell me to play. Those decisions aren't really up to me, so I'm going to soak up every minute of this and enjoy it. Whatever happens when Interleague Play isn't in effect anymore, I'll go with that."

Getting a promotion to the Majors after so many years was a happy occasion for Robinson and his wife Samantha, who was flying to be with him in Pittsburgh.

"My wife was there with me and she got really excited and I called my parents and my coach from college and told him," he said.

Because the announcement wasn't made until Thursday afternoon, Robinson hadn't shared the news with many friends, and his Omaha teammates didn't find out until they got to Werner Park and he wasn't there.

"They're sending me text messages and saying, 'Why didn't you tell us?' But I didn't know," he said.

Robinson didn't find many strangers on the charter flight to Pittsburgh.

"I feel really comfortable around this group because half the guys in there I've come up with and played with," he said. "I've had Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer hitting in front of me for three or four years and a lot of the pitchers I've played with -- [Kelvin] Herrera and guys like that. So I look forward to being a part of what they're a part of now and getting to share it with them. We've gone through the Minor Leagues and finally I've gotten here and I get to see what they've got to enjoy over the past year or year and a half."

In 60 games with Omaha this season, Robinson hit .314 with a .418 on-base percentage, eight homers and 37 RBIs.

"It's just about being patient and waiting your turn and hoping that you do get an opportunity and making the most of it, which I hope to do here now," he said.

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for

Minnesota Twins, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Clint Robinson