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Monday, 19 June 2017 13:01

Robertson's big year continues with the Orioles

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Davidson's Will Robertson hit .333 with 18 home runs this year and finished with a 56-game on-base streak intact. Davidson's Will Robertson hit .333 with 18 home runs this year and finished with a 56-game on-base streak intact. Tim Cowie

Will Robertson will tell you that dreams do, in fact, come true.

Robertson did not have a baseball scholarship offer out of high school, and he hit .210 as a junior at Davidson last year. But after a breakthrough and record-setting senior season that included leading the Wildcats through uncharted ground all the way to the Super Regionals, Robertson is turning pro.

An outfielder, Robertson was selected by the Baltimore Orioles in the 30th round of the Major League Baseball Draft last week and has joined the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Orioles in Sarasota, Fla. Games begin June 26.

“I had the belief in myself that I could be a good player,” said Robertson. “I don’t know that I foresaw everything that happened this year, but I knew that I could contribute to the team.”

Robertson tried to stay busy during the draft in order to keep his mind occupied. On the final day, he went to the gym and to get a haircut and regularly refreshed the MLB Draft Tracker on his phone. Finally, he saw his name come across on pick 908 to the Orioles.

“I didn’t really believe it at first,” said Robertson. “Definitely a surreal experience. I was relieved, excited. I still don’t think it’s really set in.”

Scouts had checked in on Robertson this season, including when he hit two home runs in a regular-season loss at North Carolina. But he met Orioles area scout Rich Morales after going 2-for-4 in the Wildcats’ 8-4 win over the No. 2-ranked Tar Heels at the Chapel Hill Regional June 2. Robertson lined the second pitch he saw into right field for Davidson’s first-ever NCAA Tournament hit, then hit a single to left in the fourth. Both hits came against Carolina right-hander J.B. Bukauskas, who was drafted 15th overall by Houston.

“If we don’t play in that game, who knows what happens,” said Robertson. “I give a lot of credit to the postseason run in terms of the national exposure and just getting to play in front of that guy that particular day.”

Two days later, Robertson drove in both runs in the Regional-clinching 2-1 win over the Tar Heels, and he threw a runner out at home from right field to preserve the lead in the ninth inning.

"I am very happy for Will," said Davidson coach Dick Cooke. "He continued to mature all year long as a hitter, while displaying the skill set necessary to project at the next level."

Robertson finished his senior season with All-America honors from four publications, a 56-game on-base streak intact and a team-best .333 average and 18 home runs. He also tied for the team lead in doubles (19) and triples (2). Robertson credits a change in mindset from the year before when he felt himself pressing. He played looser and had more fun as a senior.

“I think in a lot of (baseball) cases the more you can relax, the better you’ll be,” he said. “Whereas football, if you’re caught relaxing, that’s not going to end well for you.”

Robertson graduated in May having earned his Davidson degree in economics. After interning with Red Ventures last summer, he accepted a data analyst job with the Charlotte-based company and was to start this summer. But, with their support, he’s put that on hold to pursue pro ball.

And it’s actually not the first time Robertson has put on an Orioles uniform. Growing up in Greenville, S.C., he played for the Orioles in an 8-year-old coach-pitch league and won a championship.

“I have a little bit of Orioles gear right off the bat,” he said.

Robertson is the second Wildcat to be drafted in as many years. Pitcher Clark Beeker was selected by the Minnesota Twins in the 33rd round of the 2016 draft and is now playing for the Cedar Rapids Kernels of the Single A Midwest League. He is 6-2 with a 2.99 ERA in 75.1 innings this season.

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