Diamondbacks prospect Kristian Robinson dealing with arrest for assaulting officer, won't start season on time

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Nick Piecoro, Arizona Republic
·5 min read
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Diamondbacks prospect Kristian Robinson was arrested last year after allegedly assaulting an Arizona Department of Public Safety officer, an incident that occurred after he was found walking along the side of I-10 an hour outside of Phoenix.

Robinson said in a statement issued through the team that he was struggling with his mental health at the time and has since sought treatment.

The Diamondbacks and Robinson made the news public this week because the minor league season is set to begin in the coming days and he will not be playing. Robinson is in his native Bahamas, where he went in early April to renew his visa. With his case still working its way through the courts, his visa status remains unresolved, thus preventing Robinson from returning to Arizona.

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Arizona Diamondbacks prospect Kristian Robinson during a minor league spring training game on Mar. 19, 2019 at Salt River Fields in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Arizona Diamondbacks prospect Kristian Robinson during a minor league spring training game on Mar. 19, 2019 at Salt River Fields in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Robinson, 20, is one of the top prospects in the Diamondbacks system and is regarded as one of the best in all of baseball, ranking on most publications’ top 100 lists. An outfielder with power and speed, he received a $2.5 million bonus when he signed at age 16 in 2017.

The Diamondbacks shared the DPS incident report, though not in its original form, and much of it could not be independently verified; a public records request submitted to DPS Thursday was not immediately processed. However, the particulars in the case match with a brief summary listed in documents filed in Maricopa County County Superior court.

Sometime after 2 p.m. on April 5, 2020, Robinson was found by a trooper about an hour west of Phoenix on the eastbound side of I-10, according to the report shared by the club. The report notes multiple witnesses called police with word of a man fitting Robinson’s description who had “walked into the roadway.”

Robinson initially agreed to get in the backseat of the officer’s vehicle and accepted an offer to be driven to a hospital, the report said. But after being asked to put on his seatbelt, Robinson stuck his foot out of the open back door to exit the vehicle, then reportedly punched the officer — identified as trooper Jake Lough — in the face.

After the officer drew his Taser, Robinson was ordered to lay on the ground, which he did, and was arrested. Robinson’s car was nearby and told an officer he “left the keys somewhere in the desert near the car,” according to the report.

“Like so many, last year I was struggling to manage the stress of my personal life, the shutdown of the game I love and the overall global pandemic,” Robinson said in a statement issued through the team. “While struggling with my mental health I acted out of character and I was involved in an incident that I take full responsibility for.

“I would like to apologize to Trooper Lough and to my family, teammates, coaches and the D-Backs organization, who I am extremely grateful to for supporting me through this very difficult situation. I have taken serious measures to prioritize my mental health and get back on the field. I am fully committed to not only improving as a person but using my platform to help others who are experiencing the same struggles. I look forward to getting back to Arizona and working hard to prove myself both on and off the field.”

The incident is surprising given Robinson’s reputation within the Diamondbacks organization as a high-character person. Executives and coaches have praised him for years for his maturity, intelligence and work ethic.

“The main issue in this is mental health,” said Kris Glazier, Robinson’s agent. “It’s totally out of character. It happened at a time when hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people around the world were fighting the same mental health issues with COVID and the quarantine.”

Arizona Diamondbacks prospect Kristian Robinson during a minor league spring training game on Mar. 19, 2019 at Salt River Fields in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Arizona Diamondbacks prospect Kristian Robinson during a minor league spring training game on Mar. 19, 2019 at Salt River Fields in Scottsdale, Ariz.

The Diamondbacks issued a statement, but general manager Mike Hazen declined to comment separately until the legal proceedings are complete.

“We have been intimately involved in helping Kristian deal with these personal issues since they first took place last year, working closely with him and his representatives to address these challenges,” the team said in the statement. “We do not condone in any way his behavior and recognize the serious nature of these accusations, including the consequences of those actions.

“We have personally known Kristian for more than four years and believe in him as a person and have witnessed firsthand the steps he has taken to address these issues, get the help he needs and commit himself to being better in the future. We will continue to stay closely involved in his development as a young man and provide him with the resources he needs to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again.”

Robinson has been charged with one count of aggravated assault. According to court documents, he entered a plea of not guilty and after a series of continuances the case is scheduled to proceed next week.

It unclear how long it will take to reach legal resolution and what potential ramifications he might face. It is also not clear how long until he is able to clear up his visa issues, creating uncertainty about how much of the minor league season he will miss.

There was no minor league season last year, but Robinson reached Low-A in 2019 and likely would begin this season back at an A-ball level. He played part of last season at the team’s alternate site and participated in instructional league in the fall.

Reach Nick Piecoro at (602) 444-8680 or nick.piecoro@arizonarepublic.com. Follow him on Twitter @nickpiecoro.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Prospect Kristian Robinson dealing with arrest for assault, visa issue