Minutes after the most consistent collegiate season of his career came to an abrupt end on his home field, Kramer Robertson dropped to both knees, and put his head near the turf while Coastal Carolina bunch dogpiled near his shortstop position.
“As soon as we lost,” Robertson said Wednesday, “I don’t know if there was a money figure that would have gotten me to leave.”
Robertson, drafted in the 32nd round of last week’s MLB Draft, will stay put. The First Team All-SEC shortstop announced on Twitter he’ll put off professional baseball and return for his senior season.
The Midway, Texas product who began the year at second base before switching to shortstop, Robertson fielded .948 while developing as the Tigers’ most reliable clutch hitter.
One of three Tigers with 80 or more hits, Robertson hit .324 with 20 doubles and 39 RBI while starting all 66 games. He was named a semifinalist for the prestigious Brooks Wallace Award, given annually to the nation’s best shortstop.
“I’m excited about the opportunity,” Robertson said. “I want to be better than I was this year and I want our team to be better. I’m going to have a big role in that, and I’m going to do everything in my power to get to Omaha.”
Robertson entered last week’s draft process with a predetermined round and signing bonus number that would persuade him to leave. He said teams contacted him “not far off” either benchmark on the second day of the draft.
“Had we gone to Omaha or won a national chapionishop, things could have been different,” Robertson said. “But I’ve never gotten to go and that’s why I came to college. It’s a dream of mine to get there, to have an at-bat there.”
Robertson confirmed he will not play summer baseball, instead opting to rest his bruised, sore right hand after getting hit by a pitch during the Baton Rouge regional. He’ll also use the time to add weight to a 5-foot-10, 166 lb. frame.
“It’s my first period off since I was about eight years old,” Robertson quipped.
The Tigers now await decisions of four other drafted players — Jared Poche, Cole Freeman, Parker Bugg and Jesse Stallings. Greg Deichmann told The Advocate on Monday he will return for his junior season while Riley Smith announced he’ll sign with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Jake Fraley, who was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays with the No. 77 overall pick Thursday, told The Advocate that night he planned to forgo his senior season and sign professionally.
Follow Chandler Rome on Twitter, @Chandler_Rome