After Daniel Robertson dominated the Rookie-level Arizona League last summer, Oakland promoted the first-round Draft pick to the short-season New York-Penn League. Robertson, then 18 years old, hit .181 with 31 strikeouts in 94 at-bats with Vermont.
Despite the struggles and offseason meniscus surgery, the A's decided to push the shortstop to the Class A Midwest League this season. The surgery prevented Robertson from making it to Beloit for Opening Day, but he made the wait worth it Friday by finishing a triple shy of the cycle and driving in three runs in his debut as the Snappers were outslugged by visiting South Bend, 16-10.
"I felt good and comfortable in the box," the A's No. 7 prospect said. "I was seeing it well."
Robertson ripped the ball right from the start, singling in a three-run second inning. He homered to right-center in the fourth, walked in the sixth and doubled in the seventh.
"My first at-bat, I was hitting in the nine-hole and I thought I would get a fastball, so I was pretty well on it and hit it hard," he said. "It was the same thing in the rest of my at-bats, and I drew the walk. I was seeing the ball well and most of all happy to be up here and playing again."
Robertson played 29 games in the Arizona League last year, compiling a .297 average and .959 OPS with a 16-to-15 walks-to-strikeout ratio. He was so impressive that the Athletics bumped him to Vermont to face older competition.
"I think I learned a lot about myself there," he said. "It made me a better player today. I didn't have as much success as I would've liked to, but it gave me an idea of what kind of player I was and what I needed to work on to be a better player in the end.
"Sometimes, I felt like I was putting too much pressure on myself up there, trying to do too much. I figured out that I need to stay within what I know how to do and go from there. It was a good learning experience."
Surgery on his right knee pushed back Robertson's start date this year. He played in only two Spring Training games as he rehabbed, but was green-lighted for extended spring training and saw plenty of game action there.
In particular, Robertson spent the spring working with Oakland's defensive coordinator, Juan Navarrete, on his glove work at shortstop. Robertson played the position in high school, but many have projected him as a third baseman long-term.
"I put some great work in with Juan Navarrete at shortstop," Robertson said. "That was really good for me. I think I polished up some things there and I feel really good at short right now."
Christopher Bostick came within a double of the cycle and collected four RBIs out of the leadoff spot for the Snappers.
For South Bend, Brandon Drury, Ryan Court, Socrates Brito and Ronnie Freeman each had three hits, with Freeman driving in four runs and Court adding his first homer of the season.