Los Angeles Dodgers take Robertson in seventh round of amateur draft

Former Franklin County right-hander Nick Robertson has been selected by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the seventh round of major league baseball’s 2019 amateur draft. He is a red-shirt sophomore at NCAA Division I James Madison University in Harrisonburg.

James Madison University (JMU) red-shirt sophomore right-hander Nick Robertson, a former standout prep pitcher at Franklin County, has been chosen by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the seventh round of Major League Baseball’s 2019 amateur draft.

Robertson was taken by the Dodgers with the 221st overall pick.

In a phone interview with The Franklin News-Post late Tuesday afternoon, Robertson confirmed that he had been chosen by the Dodgers and that he would likely sign with the club.

If he does sign, Robertson would forfeit his final two years of college playing eligibility.

Had he not been selected in the draft, Robertson said he had plans to compete in the Cape Cod League, a nationally-noted summer baseball league for college players.

Robertson is the highest drafted JMU player since 2011 when Jake Lowery was chosen in the fourth round by the Cleveland Indians with the 128th overall selection.

Robertson is the first former Franklin County prep player taken in the amateur draft since Bobby Basham was chosen by the Cincinnati Reds out of the University of Richmond following his junior year.

Basham works in administration with the Chicago Cubs.

Basham and former major league draft choices Larry Bowles (Virginia Tech. Los Angeles Angels) and Brian Strong (Ferrum College, Atlanta Braves) were members of FCHS’s 1997 squad that won the Group AAA Northwest Region championship and advanced to the quarterfinals of the state tournament.

The Dodgers have minor league affiliates in Ogden, Utah and Phoenix, Arizona (Rookie League), Midland, Michigan (Class A), Rancho Cucamonga, California (Advance Class A), Tulsa, Oklahoma (Class AA) and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (Class AAA). They also have two summer league teams in the Dominican Republic.

Los Angeles made 11 selections through the opening 10 rounds.

Six of those players are pitchers, five right-handers and one left-hander.

Besides Robertson, Los Angeles’ lone pick of the seventh round, the Dodges took pitchers with their 78th, 102nd, 161st, 191st, and 281st selections.

Robertson, who was consistently clocked in the 93 to 95 mph-range during this season, was draft eligible because he was a third-year student-athlete. He red-shirted in 2017, his true freshman year after he sustained an injury to his pitching arm a week before the Dukes’ season opener and had elbow reconstruction surgery (Tommy John surgery).

Robertson, who is 6-foot-6, 265 pounds, earned first-team All-Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) laurels after posting a 5-1 record with eight saves and a 1.01 earned-run-average this season.

In 35 2/3 innings, Robertson permitted 16 hits, four earned runs and struck out 54.

In preseason, Robertson, who is noted for his fastball and a slider, was named to the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) Stopper of the Year watch list.

That list was comprised of 75 relief pitchers representing 26 Division I baseball conferences.

The Stopper of the Year award goes to the top relief pitcher in NCAA Division I baseball.

During his red-shirt freshman season of 2018, Robertson appeared in 15 games, including one start, and posted a 1.96 ERA. He yielded 16 hits and struck out 33.

Robertson’s career ERA is 1.38 — an average based on nine earned runs and 58 2/3 innings.

Robertson has 87 career strikeouts to his credit and opponents batted .153 against him over two campaigns.

Robertson said scouts from the Dodgers viewed him several times during the 2019 campaign, including relief performances against the University of Maryland and the University of Virginia.

James Madison was 17-5 in games in which Robertson pitched. Overall, the Dukes were 31-26, losing both of the games they played in the CAA’s postseason tournament.

Robertson was expected to be taken during round Nos. 4 through 10 which were conducted Tuesday on the second day of the draft.

Robertson said he was not surprised that the Dodgers chosen him and that it became apparent to him that Los Angeles would take him late Tuesday after a consultation with one of his advisers.

Robertson speculated that the Washington Nationals and the Pittsburgh Pirates were interested in selecting him.

Robertson signed with James Madison in November 2015.

Robertson, a three-sports standout at FCHS (golf, basketball and baseball) was a mainstay on the Eagles’ 2015 squad that finished 17-4.

That summer, Robertson pitched for Rocky Mount Post 6, which qualified for the State American Legion tournament for the first time since the mid 1980s and finished 2-2 in the event.

Robertson, who threw in the mid to upper 80s while competing for the Eagles, played three years of varsity baseball. He was coached by Barry Shelton, who served as an assistant coach on the staff of Marlin Ikenberry at VMI.

Ikenberry is JMU’s head coach.

JMU players Shelton Perkins (16th round, Baltimore Orioles), Dan Goggin (17th round, New York Mets) and Kevin Kelly (19th round, Cleveland Indians) were taken Wednesday on the final day of the draft.

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