"I left on a Wednesday, and I was going to stay at home with my dad in Arizona for Father's Day. So I'm in Eureka, California and I get a call from my scout saying ‘Hey, I need you in Eugene' and now I have to drive back. So I made a six hour trip out of what should have been thirty minutes", said Robertson.
If the speedy leadoff hitter looks relaxed and seasoned playing for the Em's, it's because he is. After spending three years with NAIA Concordia University in Irvine, California, the allure of elite Division One competition and a high profile program came calling from Coach Pat Casey's Beavers. When Robertson caught wind that his manager at Concordia was leaving the team, he made the leap to the back-to-back champion Oregon State after three productive years in Irvine. And it was there, at Goss Stadium, that he saw the type of competition that would help prepare him for the success he is currently having in the Northwest League (NWL).
"Coming out of an NAIA school, you might only see a guy with electric stuff or a guy with some velocity or just that kind of competition. You just don't see it that much – maybe once a week or every other week. But when you're playing in the Pac-10, you're getting Tyson Ross (Cal), you're getting Preston Guilmet (Arizona) and Mike Leake (Arizona State). The competition that you're playing against in the Pac-10 is definitely as high as it is up here [in the NWL]."
Coach Casey, who has quickly gained iconic status in the state of Oregon, taught Robertson the value of staying humble by taking success in stride and failure with an open mind.
He also told him that if you're going to get ahead, you're going to have to get on the grind.
"He helped me a lot with what it takes to survive in the minor leagues. Not only are you grinding against the competition, you're grinding with twenty-five other guys at your position all the way up," Robertson said. "You have to learn that it's a slow process and you have to be patient with it. He helped me out a lot with that. I experienced a lot of success at Concordia, and he helped me experienced a lot of the failure part as well while I was at Oregon State."
Robertson has yet to experience much of the failures of the game since arriving with the Ems in June. Batting leadoff, he currently leads the team in runs, total bases, and on-base percentage and leads the entire Northwest League in hits (55) and batting average (.350).
Even after an abysmal early July series at Spokane where he went hitless in five straight games, he managed to bounce back in magnificent form by keeping the big picture in mind.
"I think if you can focus more on having fun, those 0-for-4 and 0-for-5 days really don't mean anything because, if you go 0-for-4 on opening night, you have 75 more games or 164 more games where you have opportunities. You can't let a couple of at-bats affect you when in a season you're going to have 300 to 500 at-bats," said Robertson.
Hitting coach Eric Peyton noted Robertson's improvements: "He's worked hard at getting better at staying inside the ball, and now that he understands that, he's really taken off with it."
Robertson also leads the team with 13 stolen bases and covers the outfield with a tremendous range that has resulted in some outstanding defensive plays – he's undeniably quick, but it took a desire to excel in another sport to unlock the fleet feet that now carry Robertson's game for the Ems.
"I was a middle infielder up until my junior year of high school. I was playing football and I was really slow my freshman and sophomore year, and when I really wanted to play football, I realized that you have to be fast to play. I started running a lot and started working out a lot. One day we were running and our baseball coach just happened to be our defensive coordinator and he noticed that I was noticeably faster so he said to me ‘why don't you buy an outfielder glove and see where it takes you.' So I bought an outfielder glove and I've been there ever since."
The 33rd-round pick has shown the skill-set of a first round star with clutch hitting and head-turning defensive plays coming on a nightly basis. Robertson's numbers have gone well beyond expectations, but he has no plans on letting up just yet.
Whether it's in the outfield, the middle infield, coming off the bench to pinch hit or pinch run, Robertson is determined to prove to the Padres club that he is going to battle and give it everything for whatever role he is placed in.
"I want to be the type of player that a manager can throw in the lineup day in and day out knowing that I'm going to compete every pitch and every inning and no matter what, I'm never going to back down from anybody. When you got a guy like that that can stand in there and battle with anybody, you got a guy that can compete year after year after year."