Clint Robinson finally gets the call to Kansas City

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After 105 minor league homers, 27-year-old Clint Robinson was promoted to the majors by the Royals for the first time Thursday.

Robinson, a 25th-round pick out of Troy University in 2007, has been tearing up the minors for 2 1/2 years now. In 2010, he hit .335/.410/.625 with 29 homers and 98 RBI in 477 at-bats for Double-A Northwest Arkansas. In 2011, he came in at .329/.399/.533 with 23 homers and 100 RBI in 503 at-bats for Triple-A Omaha. Back at Omaha, he was hitting .314/.418/.500 with eight homers and 37 RBI so far this season.

Still, Robinson has never been taken very seriously. In fact, he was pretty lucky not to be released after such modest seasons in A ball at ages 23 and 24 in 2008 and ’09. He finished with OPSs of .806 and .819 those years, and if the Royals had other first base prospects they needed to play, they could have let him go.

Unfortunately, late bloomers with little defensive value generally don’t get many chances, if they get any at all. The Royals already have Eric Hosmer at first base and Billy Butler at DH, and those two simply aren’t budging. Robinson isn’t a candidate to play the oufield, so barring an injury to one of those two guys ahead of him, he’ll be little more than a pinch-hitter for the Royals, making it doubtful he’ll stick around for long.

Still, it’d be nice to see Robinson get a real chance. Unlike some quad-A players, he’s not a big strikeout guy. In fact, this year, he’s fanned just 31 times versus 38 walks in 220 at-bats. Robinson probably isn’t Bryan LaHair, but he’d deserve a look as a stopgap first baseman or designated hitter should any team need one.

Michael Bourn opts out of his minor league deal with the Orioles

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Outfielder Michael Bourn was traded by the Diamondbacks to the Orioles late last season and hit a solid .283/.358/.435 in 55 plate appearances with them through the end of the season. While that’s not enough to outweigh the miserable season he had in Arizona, it was enough to get the O’s to give him a look in spring training with a minor league deal. They signed him to one in late February.

Then, a couple of days later, Bourn broke his finger while playing catch with a football. Unable to play, the O’s cut him. In early April, once Bourn healed, the O’s signed him again. He played 11 games for their Triple-A affiliate and went 9-for-41 with ten walks in 51 plate appearances. While that makes for a decent OBP, his lack of any sort of pop or good contact suggests that if someone throws him strikes, he can’t do much with the ball.

As such, the O’s had not called him up to Baltimore. And as a result of that, Bourn exercised his opt-out rights and became a free agent.

Someone may take a look at him given that his batting eye seems to be intact and given that, in an admittedly small sample size, he still performed last season. But if he does get a look, it’ll likely be back at the minor league level.

Rob Manfred talks about playing regular season games in Mexico

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The new Collective Bargaining Agreement commits the players and the league to regular season games on foreign soil. Most of the focus of this has been on games in London, for which there has been a lot of activity and discussion.

Yesterday before the Astros-Tigers game in Houston, however, Commissioner Rob Manfred talked about playing games in Mexico. And not as just a one-off, but as a foot-in-the-water towards possible expansion:

Commissioner Rob Manfred said Tuesday that the time had come to play regular-season games in Mexico City as Major League Baseball weighs international expansion.

“We think it’s time to move past exhibition games and play real live ‘they-count’ games in Mexico,” Manfred said. “That is the kind of experiment that puts you in better position to make a judgement as to whether you have a market that could sustain an 81-game season and a Major League team.”

A team in Mexico could make some geographic sense and some marketing sense, though it’s not clear if there is a city that would be appropriate for that right now. Mexico City is huge but it has plenty of its own sports teams and is far away from the parts of the country where baseball is popular (mostly the border states and areas along the Pacific coast). At 7,382 feet, its elevation would make games at Coors Field look like the Deadball Era.

Monterrey has been talked about — games have been played there and it’s certainly closer — but it’s somewhat unknown territory demographically speaking. It’s not as big as Mexico City, obviously. Income stratification is greater there and most of the rest of Mexico than it is in the United States too, making projections of how much discretionary income people may spend on an expensive entertainment product like Major League Baseball uncertain. Especially when they have other sports they’ve been following for decades.

Interesting, though. It’s something Manfred has talked about many times over the years, so unlike so many other things he says he’s “considering” or “hasn’t ruled out,” Major League Baseball in Mexico is something worth keeping our eyes on.