UPLAND, Calif. -- As much as Daniel Robertson
attempts to downplay the whole idea about being taken at some point in the 2012 Major League Baseball Draft on Monday, you get the sense that his potential selection in the first couple of rounds is important. More than the senior infielder from Upland (Calif.)
would like to admit to others, in fact.
Robertson has put in the necessary work to prepare himself for the moment, after all. Countless hours of batting practice was the norm for him over the course of the last year, or so. Taking extra grounders before, and after practice, was something he did with regularity. In the process, he developed into one of the country's premier players in his class, of course.
Nevertheless, the plan is to watch the draft in a low-key manner, from home with some select family and friends. Nothing special. No big deal. A ho-hum gathering. If, and when, his name called, so be it. Robertson maintains he's not consumed with the process.
His perceived humbleness, however, doesn't fool anyone.
Deep down, Robertson cares. No one works as diligently as he did in the recent past to, quite simply, not care about his future. The draft on Monday will be a life-changing experience for him. With some poking and prodding, Robertson finally admitted to as much.
"This could possibly happen, I'm close to being drafted and living out a dream that I've had since I was a little kid. All I've ever wanted to do was be in the big leagues, make it,'' Robertson said. "Some times, I sit back and think about things. Wow. My time has come.''
"I'm hearing from people that I could be drafted in the second round, possibly the first round. Leading up to this, there haven't been many stories or blogs about me. That was fine too. I block those things out anyway. Hype is overrated, in my book. My goal all along was to take to care of things on the field and things will take care of themselves off the field."
Robertson did just that, take care of business, this past season at Upland. He lead the team in seemingly every significant statistical category, including batting average (.560), hits (42), runs (41), RBI (36), extra base hits (18), stolen bases (8) and home runs (6).
Equally important was his play defensively. After three years of playing third base at the varsity level, Robertson took one for the team and moved to shortstop to solidify things up the middle. The switch worked out well for everyone, particularly the pitching staff.
A jack-of-all-trades type, he tried his hand on the mound too. The experiment was a success, go figure. In four appearances as a closer for Upland, Robertson converted four saves. He gave up three hits in four innings of work with five strikeouts. Not too shabby. As a result of his efforts on the diamond, Robertson is ranked No. 48 on the Maxpreps 2012 Top 100 list.
"Daniel is a very special kid, he has been an amazing contributor all four years that he's been with us,'' Upland coach Mike Alonso said. "We have had some good players here in the past, and he ranks right up there with the best of them. He's a talented athlete.
"It doesn't surprise me that Daniel has been so nonchalant about the draft. Make no mistake, he's been on scouts radars for a while now. He was projected as a fifth, sixth or seventh rounder last year at this point. He's jumped up on the boards recently though. Chances are that he'll go somewhere in the first or second round. What an accomplishment that would be.
"Funny story: We have five guys on our staff, each of us pitched in $20 and wrote down some numbers where we thought Daniel would be drafted. Let's just say that there were a lot of guys with numbers in the 20's. Some organization is going to land a good player.''
Robertson committed to play college ball at nearby UCLA. While staying close to home and honing his craft for the Bruins in Westwood is a good option, all signs point to the Major Leagues being the final destination for the 6-foot-1 and 185-plus pound right-hander.
Two weeks ago, he worked out for the Toronto Blue Jays and Chicago Cubs. Last last weekend, he had the opportunity to display his well-rounded skill set for the Minnesota Twins and St. Louis Cardinals. The San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, New York Mets and Colorado Rockies are among the many others who have recently expressed interest in his services.
Given all of the glaring facts, Robertson appears poised for the next level regardless of whether he is completely comfortable with acknowledging his future path in life.
"After finishing up my draft workouts, things started to hit me, I might actually play professionally one day. It's still hard to believe, that's why I don't talk about it much,'' Robertson said. "All the hard work that I've put in over the years is about to payoff. It's a great feeling.''