Kyle Robinson, of the ThunderBolts, connects for a single against the Gateway Grizzlies at Standard Bank Stadium, Sunday, June 8th, 2014, in Crestwood. | Gary Middendorf/for Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 10, 2014 6:35AM
Kyle Robinson started hitting immediately after joining the Windy City ThunderBolts late last year and his production hasn’t stopped.
He hit .336 in 37 games with the team in 2013 and closed the season on an 11-game hitting streak. He opened this year’s campaign on a seven-game hitting streak and entered Sunday hitting .310 with a team-best 14 RBI in 20 games.
“I’m just trying to not do too much, just staying within myself,” Robinson said. “There are some at-bats where I try to do more than I’m able to do and I get in trouble. If I just tell myself to relax and stay calm at the plate and let the pitcher supply the power, good things happen.”
Robinson, a fourth-year pro, was drafted by the White Sox out of the University of Arkansas. After spending a little more than two years in the Sox organization, he was released early last season.
His next destination was Joliet, where he had just three hits in 23 at-bats over six games. The T-Bolts, though, were willing to pull the trigger on a trade for Robinson in July.
“We had good reports from the White Sox,” T-Bolts manager Ron Biga said. “They said. ‘He’ll hit for you.’ He tweaked some things and he’s just been really consistent for us. He keeps the same simple approach, and when you do that you’re going to have some success.”
The strong finish to the 2013 season served as a reminder to Robinson that he still could be a productive pro hitter.
“It was big motivation,” he said. “I worked really hard for pretty much eight months this offseason. I stayed in the gym. I hit. You never know when your last game is, so I want to go out there and give it 100 percent every time I cross the lines.”
After spending time at first base and in the outfield last season, Robinson has spent the majority of his time as the team’s designated hitter this year.
“It’s a different demon,” Robinson said. “You’ve got to stay loose. I do some things to keep my mind busy. I go down to the tunnel and stretch out to loosen up. I’ll go out and throw with the left fielder sometimes. It’s definitely tougher than people think.”
Robinson has settled into the role nicely, and 11 months after his trade to Windy City, he’s become the team’s cleanup hitter and the most feared bat in its lineup.
“In Joliet, I didn’t get a chance to get my feet wet,” he said. “I took a month off after I got released from the White Sox. I went home and kind of got down on myself. I came back and after I got traded from Joliet I was like ‘It’s go time. It’s time to show people what I can do.’ ”