WACO, Texas — Since he wore the red, white and blue at Waco's Midway High School, Kramer Robertson has been swinging to make the show.
When the sports world shut down in March during the coronavirus pandemic, Robertson was in the St. Louis Cardinals' major league camp at Spring Training in Jupiter, Florida. In fact, they were playing when the announcement of MLB's suspension came down and found out in a unique way.
"The whole week, we'd been having meetings and the virus kept getting bigger and bigger," Robertson said. "And then the night before, we saw everything happen with the Utah Jazz and the NBA got suspended, so we knew something was up, we knew something was going to happen soon."
"The next day, we went on as normal and had our game and then, as we were walking off the field, the fans were giving us a standing ovation, which we thought was a little bit weird. Then I heard a fan yell that spring training had been canceled and that's how I found out."
It was a pause on baseball, altogether, but for Robertson, it's a pause on a fast rise through the minor leagues.
He was drafted out of LSU in 2017, when the Tigers played in the College World Series Finals against conference rival Florida. From Baton Rouge, it was straight to full-season A Peoria.
"Usually, guys to to rookie ball and get a bit of development there, but I went straight in to full-season and the following year I was in 'High A' and then last year I made it up to AAA," Robertson said. "I've been fortunate to move fast."
In 2019, Robertson split time between the AA Springfield Cardinals and AAA Memphis Redbirds, playing 57 games in Springfield and 66 in Memphis, hitting .231 on the year. During his time with Redbirds, he got to know Matt Carpenter while he was on injury assignment.
When Robertson stepped in to the Cards' major league camp, he said Carpenter was welcoming and became a mentor for him.
"To get comfortable and be like, 'O.K., I'm good enough, I can hold my own out here,'" Robertson said. "Second is just how consistent these guys are. Yeah, they're talented, but they just go out there and take care of their business day in and day out and they're very willing to help if you have any questions."
That doesn't mean, though, he wasn't star-struck like so many would have been during a few drills.
"My first day out there, I was taking grounders and throwing them across the infield and it was one of those moments where I was like, 'Wow, I'm throwing across the field to Paul Goldschmidt right now,'" he said.
During Spring Training, Robertson played in three games with St. Louis.
Since everything stopped, though, he's been home in Waco and spending time with his family when he normally wouldn't. One of the pluses to that, he got to celebrate with his mom, Baylor women's basketball coach Kim Mulkey, when she got the nod in to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in April.
"I'm her biggest fan," Robertson said. "I was so happy for her and then they did the whole parade around the neighborhood and I got to lead the parade and that was really special. It was a really great day for our family and for my mom, individually."
During the suspension of play, Robertson said he's been focusing on his strength and conditioning to work on what he can without the ability to hit live pitches and field live hitting.
"I'm in better shape, physically, than I was when I left Jupiter," he added.
He equates it to off-season workouts, when he focuses on the non-baseball aspects to be as ready as possible to get straight to baseball when practices begin, again.
As far as when baseball might get going again, Robertson said he doesn't know that or the status of the minor league season. He just knows he'll be excited to grab a bat or glove and run out of the dugout whenever they get the all clear.
"Those 10-hour bus rides in the minors don't seem so bad, now," he said, laughing.
To see the full conversation with Robertson, click play on the video below.
According to ESPN, Major League Baseball plans to present its economic plan for a shortened 2020 season to the players association this week.
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