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Chris Robinson

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Christopher James Robinson

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[edit] Biographical Information

Catcher Chris Robinson played many years in the minors and was the starter for Team Canada before making his major league debut in September of 2013, at age 29. Having reached his lifetime goal, he retired after that season.

[edit] Amateur Career

Robinson was the Ontario Player of the Year in 2001, hitting .428 and slugging .697, while throwing out an amazing 51 of 57 attempted base-stealers. He was a high school All-Star in golf, hockey, basketball, baseball and volleyball and was in the Canadian golf championship. He was with the Canadian team in the 2002 Junior World Championship, hitting .267/.361/.400 with 11 runs and 8 RBI in 8 games for the 4th-place entry. He played third base in that competition. The New York Mets picked him in the 30th round of the 2002 amateur draft.

In college, he hit .306/.375/.400 as a freshman at Illinois. He was the school's first Canadian player in over 20 years. He hit into a double play in his only at-bat for Canada in the 2003 Baseball World Cup. In 2004, the sophomore batted .359/.414/.541 and led the Illini in several key areas. He was named to the Big Ten Conference All-Conference team at catcher.

As a junior, Robinson hit .353/.435/.576, led the Conference with 7 pick-offs and threw out 40.4% of attempted base-stealers. He was named as the All-Conference catcher once more and also won the Big Ten Sportmanship award. The Detroit Tigers selected him in the 3rd round of the 2005 amateur draft; as they lost their second pick due to free agent compensation, he was their second overall selection after Cameron Maybin. The 90th overall pick, he was signed by scout Marty Miller for a $422,000 bonus.

[edit] Professional Career

Robinson hit .154/.200/.154 in 4 games for the 2005 Oneonta Tigers and .257/.329/.365 in 41 for the West Michigan Whitecaps. Baseball America rated him as the best defensive catcher in the Detroit organization.

Chris was with Canada for the 2006 World Baseball Classic. In his only game, he pinch-hit for Adam Stern against Ricardo Rincon in the 9th inning of their loss to Mexico and grounded out.

In the 2006 campaign, Chris hit .286/.335/.363 in 95 games for the Lakeland Tigers. Late in the year, he was traded to the Chicago Cubs for Neifi Perez. With the Daytona Cubs, he batted .356/.383/.533 in 12 contests.

Robinson made it to AA in 2007 and batted .263/.313/.336 in 89 games for the Tennessee Smokies. In the 2007 Baseball World Cup, Chris only hit .190/.227/.286 for Canada but all three of his hits drove in runs, including his double against the Cuban national team's Adiel Palma.

Robinson was back with Canada for the 2008 Final Olympic Qualification Tournament, helping them finish first and earn a spot in Beijing. He was 4 for 11 with a double and homer while splitting catching duties with David Corrente. All of his offense came against the last-place South African national team; he was 0 for 7 in other action.

Robinson started for Canada in the 2008 Olympics and hit .313/.353/.313. He got Canada's final out in a 6-5, 12-inning loss to Taiwan in the game that decided 5th and 6th place. As a pinch-hitter for Emmanuel Garcia, he struck out against Chih-Chia Chang. He hit only .214/.284/.264 for Tennessee in 2008, splitting catching with Welington Castillo.

Moving up to AAA for the first time in 2009, he fielded .998 for the Iowa Cubs and batted .326/.345/.435 in 91 games. He would have been second in the 2009 PCL in average had he qualified (behind John Bowker). He was named Team MVP. He was the lone Iowa player in the 2009 AAA All-Star Game. Starting at catcher for the PCL and hitting 7th, he flew out against J.D. Martin in the third. In the 5th, he singled off Jose Vaquedano and came home on an Esteban German hit. Eric Munson later replaced him at catcher. John Hester would be picked as the 2009 PCL All-Star catcher at year's end, though. He hit .379/.400/.414 for Canada when they won the Bronze Medal in the 2009 Baseball World Cup, with 8 runs in 8 games; he also threw out 6 of 9 runners who tried to steal against him. He split the catching duties with Cole Armstrong.

In 2010, he was one of the final cuts made by the Cubs as they rounded out their opening day roster. Splitting time with Castillo at Iowa, his offensive numbers were way down (.248/.300/.326) though he fielded .996. He excelled for Canada in the 2010 Pan American Games Qualifying Tournament, hitting .545/.583/.773 with 10 runs and five RBI in five games. He led the event in average (.097 over teammate Jamie Romak), tied Mike Trout and Eric Hosmer for second in runs (two behind Bernie Castro) and was named the event's All-Star catcher. Canada won a spot in the 2011 Pan American Games thanks to Robinson's star turn.

Again splitting time with Castillo for Iowa in 2011, he hit .316/.345/.396 and fielded .998 behind the dish. He batted .278/.278/.389 in the 2011 Pan American Games, with 3 runs in four games; he split catching with Armstrong and DH with Romak. He came up big in the Gold Medal game; trailing Team USA 1-0 in the 6th, he singled off Andy Van Hekken and scored the tying run on a Jimmy Van Ostrand double; Canada won 2-1 for their first Gold in baseball in the history of the Pan American Games.

A free agent, Chris signed with the Baltimore Orioles and hit .232/.298/.311 in 52 games for the Norfolk Tides, one of several catching options they tried. Robinson remained with Canada for the 2013 World Baseball Classic Qualifiers, starting ahead of Armstrong and Kellin Deglan and posting a strong tourney - 5 for 11, 4 R, 4 RBI as Canada won a spot in the 2013 World Baseball Classic. In the finale, he hit a two-run homer off André Hughes two batters into the game to start a rout of Germany. In the Classic itself, he continued to hit well, going 5 for 9 with a run and a RBI; he was third on a potent Canadian offense in average behind Michael Saunders and Justin Morneau but Canada's pitching let them down.

He hit .241/.268/.278 in 29 games for Norfolk to open 2013. The San Diego Padres purchased his contract in June and he hit well for the Tucson Padres (.316/.338/.353 in 39 G). That earned him a promotion to the Padres in September. In his first MLB at-bat, he batted for Will Venable with a 13-5 deficit against the Giants. His first hit was a doozy; pinch-hitting for Dale Thayer, he socked a three-run homer off Eury De La Rosa, scoring Alexi Amarista and Rene Rivera. He finished 2-for-12 for the 2013 Padres with that home run. In the minors, he had played 634 games, batting .276/.320/.355 with 217 runs and 267 RBI, fielding .993 at catcher and throwing out 27% of those who tried to steal.

Despite being out of baseball for two years, Robinson made the Canadian squad for the 2015 Pan American Games. Backing up Deglan, he went 0 for 5 but Canada won the Gold, joining Cuba as the only countries with multiple baseball Golds in the Pan American Games.

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