Will Robertson is unlike most hitters over the last eight seasons at Creighton.
Since 2012, the Bluejays have played on a full-time basis at TD Ameritrade Park, one of the hardest venues to hit home runs at in college baseball. It’s caused the Bluejays to have few power hitters in their lineup.
As a team, Creighton hit nine home runs in 2015. That number surged to 37 last season with Robertson responsible for a bulk of the home runs. He led the Bluejays with 12 homers last season, which was the most by a Creighton player since 2012.
He’s duplicated that success this spring, as his compact left-handed swing has allowed him to drive the ball into the gaps and over the fence.
Robinson’s home run totals are just a glimpse of his success at the plate throughout his three-year college career. He has enhanced his skills and developed into a MLB draft prospect at Creighton. He likely will be a top-five round selection in this year’s draft, which begins June 3.
Robertson played in the Cape Cod League last summer, which is college baseball’s premier summer league and attracts a high volume of professional scouts. The experience prepared Robertson for his junior season, he said.
“I think it was big for scouts to see me and for my personal development with my confidence,” Robertson said. “It helped me know that I belong with the best hitters in the country and know that guys from mid-majors or smaller schools can hang with the big dogs, per se. Dealing with scouts and getting that exposure was awesome.”
In one sense, it’s the unlikeliest of ascents. Robertson was lightly recruited out of the Missouri high school ranks. The small-town position player heard briefly from Missouri and Missouri State and received offers from Creighton, Kansas State and Arkansas State.
Creighton stood out to Robertson. It’s location, quality business program and state of the art facility sold Robertson on the university.
He’s thrived in his three seasons at Creighton. He’s transitioned to being a full-time outfielder, after mostly playing first base in high school, and improved his approach at the plate.
After a modest freshman season that included three home runs, Robertson showed tremendous growth as a sophomore last year. He hit .333 with 12 home runs and 59 RBIs in 198 at-bats.
He played in the Cape Cod League last summer, hitting .300, and carried that success into his junior season. He’s continued to refine his approach to post a .309 batting average with 13 home runs and 62 RBIs in 204 at-bats.
“Getting here and working with the coaches and learning how to evolve my game into being a total hitter has been key for me,” Robertson said. “Whether that’s hitting home runs or the ball the opposite way or hitting left-handed pitching, I’ve evolved into a total hitter.”
Robertson, who’s 6-foot-2, 215 pounds, has above-average power from a slightly crouched stance. He’s one of the best power hitters in this year’s draft class. He shows ability to hit for contact and drive the ball to the opposite field.
“Now, I feel like I’ve developed into more of a total hitter,” Robertson said. “A guy who can hit both righties and lefties.”
Robinson has made strides in the outfield over his three years at Creighton. He profiles as a corner outfielder, possessing a strong arm but average speed.
He wants to continue to refine his approach at the plate in the upcoming months, regardless if he embarks on a pro career or returns for his senior season at Creighton.
“The pitchers are so much better at not making mistakes,” Robertson said. “You have to really capitalize on hitting their mistakes at this level. And even up (at the next level), the mistakes are minimal. That’s something I need to work on is capitalizing on that mistake and not chasing pitches.”
This season, Creighton qualified for the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2012. After missing the Big East tournament last year, the Bluejays responded by winning the regular-season and conference tournament titles to claim the automatic bid for the NCAA Tournament.
Creighton has never advanced to a Super Regional in the program’s history. The two-seeded Bluejays will begin regional play against Michigan on Friday in Corvallis, Oregon. Oregon State, the defending national champions, and Cincinnati also are part of the Corvallis Regional.
“It’s probably been the best time on a baseball field in my life,” Robertson said. “Everyone is excited to get a chance to continue to play, especially against the national champions in their home park.”
Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for four years. He’s interviewed 133 of the top draft prospects in that period, including three No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today and The Arizona Republic, have quoted his work, while he’s appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.