Game 1 of a four-game International League series in Lawrenceville, Ga., on Monday featured the Triple-A debut of former DeSoto Central High star Austin Riley, who went 1-for-5 for Atlanta affiliate Gwinnett. Game 2 could see the Class AAA debut of ex-George County High and Southern Miss standout Mason Robbins, now with Charlotte. Robbins, 25 and in his fifth pro season, was promoted by the Chicago White Sox on Monday. The left-handed hitting outfielder started this season on the disabled list but after being activated hit .350 with a homer and three RBIs in five games for Double-A Birmingham. He batted .265 with three homers in 125 games for the Barons in 2017. “I want to get more out of my swing than what I had last year,” Robbins told the Biloxi Sun-Herald in February, meaning he needs to show more power. In 2016 in high-A ball, he hit five homers with 33 doubles and seven triples while batting .314 and making the Carolina League’s postseason All-Star team. If Robbins starts tonight, he’ll face Gwinnett’s Kolby Allard, the former Mississippi Braves lefty who rates as one of Atlanta’s top prospects.
The must-see prospects on the Birmingham Barons’ roster include outfielder Eloy Jimenez, catcher Zack Collins and pitchers Alec Hansen and Spencer Adams. As the Barons visit the Mississippi Braves for a regular season-ending series, a fair number of fans in the seats will have an eye on Birmingham’s No. 20, Mason Robbins, the right fielder. A former Mr. Baseball at George County High and All-C-USA pick at Southern Miss just a few short years ago, Robbins comes to Trustmark Park swinging a hot bat. Though he is not among the Chicago White Sox’s top-rated prospects, Robbins, 24, is a .286 hitter over four pro seasons, including a .314 mark in A-ball in 2016. In his Double-A debut this year, Robbins has been up-and-down, but he is batting .300 over his last 40 at-bats and is currently at .270 with three homers, 36 RBIs and 47 runs in 120 games. The main knock on the 6-foot, 220-pound lefty hitter continues to be his lack of power as a corner outfielder: 18 homers in pro ball. But if keeps making contact (only 46 strikeouts all year), the power may yet come. Not that Robbins seems to be stressing over it. “Any time you get to wake up every morning and play baseball, it’s a fun opportunity,” he recently told Biloxi’s WLOX. P.S. Jacob Lindgren has begun throwing live batting practice, the Biloxi Sun-Herald reports. The Biloxi native and former Mississippi State standout, now in the Atlanta system, had Tommy John surgery last August. Drafted in the second round by the New York Yankees in 2014, lefty Lindgren blew through their system to reach the big leagues in 2015. He missed most of 2016 with the arm injury. The Yankees did not offer him a contract after last season, and he signed with the Braves. He has a career minor league ERA of 1.83 with 85 strikeouts in 54 innings.
He hit in high school. He hit in college. He has hit in pro ball, including an RBI knock in his first major league spring training at-bat on Saturday. Mason Robbins keeps passing the tests. The next one he faces will be the biggest yet. The former George County High and Southern Miss standout should play at the Double-A level in the Chicago White Sox’s system this season, which would put him in Birmingham of the Southern League. Robbins, a 25th-round pick in 2014, has batted .292 over his three seasons in the minors, including a .314 season at high-A Winston-Salem in 2016, when he was a postseason Carolina League All-Star. He was Mr. Baseball and a prep All-American as a senior at George County and a freshman All-America pick at USM, where he was a three-year starter. The lefty-hitting outfielder rarely walks but doesn’t strike out much either. He flashed some power at Winston-Salem with 33 doubles, seven triples and five home runs. Robbins hasn’t yet cracked the White Sox’s top 30 prospect rankings listed on mlb.com, but if he hits in Double-A – as he has everywhere else – getting attention won’t be an issue. P.S. Former East Central Community College star Tim Anderson reportedly has agreed to a 6-year, $25 million contract with the White Sox. He hit .283 in 99 games as a rookie shortstop in 2016.
Mason Robbins is another one of those players who doesn’t show up on the prospect charts but keeps putting up numbers that can’t be ignored. Ex-Southern Miss star Robbins, a lefty-hitting outfielder, went 5-for-5 – his first career five-hit game — for Class A Winston-Salem in the Chicago White Sox’s system on Monday. Now at .318 for the year, the 23-year-old Robbins leads the high-A Carolina League in hitting. He is raking at .477 with 21 hits over his last 10 games. Robbins, 6 feet, 200 pounds, has four homers, four triples, 22 doubles, 42 RBIs and 43 runs in 86 games. He doesn’t walk (eight times all year) but doesn’t fan much either (57 in 355 at-bats). He has only 14 homers in 264 minor league games, but Robbins told milb.com he isn’t concerned about his homer totals: “I know I’m a gap-to-gap hitter who can hit a lot of doubles and triples.” He has 52 and 16 for his career. The former Mr. Baseball at George County High was also a highly decorated player at USM and was picked in the 25th round by the ChiSox in 2014. The White Sox’s Double-A Birmingham club is playing the Mississippi Braves at Trustmark Park this week. It’d sure be a nice time to move Robbins up.
BB&T Ballpark in Winston-Salem, N.C., was the scene on Wednesday of an impressive display of hitting prowess from a couple of minor-league Mississippians with big-league aspirations. Gulfport native and ex-Harrison Central High star Bobby Bradley, one of the top prospects in the Cleveland organization, went 3-for-5 with a three-run home run as visiting Lynchburg beat the host Dash 12-6 in the Class A Carolina League clash. But even in defeat, Mason Robbins, a Leakesville native and former Southern Miss star, grabbed the headlines for Winston-Salem. Robbins hit for the cycle, getting both his first homer and triple of the season. It was the first cycle of Robbins’ career, “something you can cross off your bucket list in baseball,” he told milb.com. Robbins, a lefty-hitting outfielder, was a 25th-round pick in 2014 and isn’t among the ChiSox’s top-rated prospects. But he’s progressing in the system, hitting .275 for his career with 11 homers, 13 triples and 85 RBIs. Currently riding a hot streak, he’s at .259 with one homer, one triple and six RBIs in 2016. Bradley, a left-hitting first baseman, is batting .278 with five homers and 22 RBIs as a 19-year-old in the high-A Carolina League. For Bradley, who belted 27 homers in low-A ball in 2015, it’s not so much if he makes The Show as when.