D-backs’ Kristian Robinson nears return 3 years after arrest

May 2, 2023, 11:01 AM

Kristian Robinson...

Kristian Robinson #61 of the Arizona Diamondbacks poses during Photo Day at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick on March 21, 2022 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

(Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

One-time Arizona Diamondbacks top prospect Kristian Robinson is nearing a return to his professional baseball career three years after he was arrested for allegedly punching an Arizona Department of Public Safety officer.

The outfielder served an 18-month probation period and on Saturday received an email that a work visa had been approved, setting up for his first official action since 2019, according to Diamondbacks director of player development Josh Barfield.

The D-backs applied for Robinson’s reinstatement on Monday and will have 30 days to activate him to the 40-man roster with plans on sending him to Single-A Visalia to resume his career, Barfield said.

“This has been a really difficult process from start to finish,” Barfield said on a conference call Tuesday. “I think he has grown a lot over this period. You forget how young he is … look, we know that he put himself in this situation but at the same time, he’s very apologetic, he’s learned a lot.”

Robinson, who is now 22 years old, was arrested on April 5, 2020, just after MLB had come to a halt at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Officers found him on the side of Interstate 10 in Phoenix walking in traffic lanes. An officer asked Robinson to sit in his patrol car, which the baseball player initially did before he attempted to exit the car and punched the officer, according to police records.

After the arrest, Robinson through the team apologized to the officer and the Diamondbacks, citing struggles with mental health issues. The team, Barfield said, believes it has put a strong support system around the young Bahamian.

“Just from a mental standpoint, he’s come a long way,” the farm director said. “He’s got his smile, his joy back. He wasn’t the same Kristian going through this.”

Robinson went through counseling and community service to be charged with a misdemeanor rather than a felony, which Barfield said cleared him to apply for a work visa.

The outfielder, who was listed by as the team’s top prospect in 2020, had returned to the field in spring, working in extended games before a hamstring injury set back his plans for a return.

Robinson has spent the last week-plus building back up from that injury.

Robinson in 2019 played for Single-A Kane County and Low-A Hillsboro, combining to slash .282/.368/.514 with 14 home runs and 51 RBIs over 69 games played.

Barfield said while the three-year ordeal has set Robinson back from his development, the youngster remains among the top power bats in the D-backs organization and could become a pro as a corner outfielder.

“Very, very good spring training. We were very encouraged about where he was, especially offensively. (At-bat) approach has always been something that’s been an area of focus,” Barfield said.

“I just think his physical gifts are unique. He’s a big, strong kid, he looks like a football player when you see him,” Barfield added. “The power is the thing that really stands out. … The power is still there, it’s very, very real. The consistency with the contact is always going to be the thing that we focus on, that we’re maximizing the power potential.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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