The Big Easy wasn’t quite as simple as the name suggests.
Cody Robinson toiled through two seasons at Tulane University in New Orleans, collecting only 17 hits in 85 at-bats for an even — and underwhelming — .200 batting average.
That’s when he needed a change of scenery.
Enter, Travis Janssen.
Northeastern State’s baseball coach — without laying eyes on Cody Robinson — decided to bring the slugger to Tahlequah so he could finish out his collegiate baseball career.
That worked out swimmingly for both parties.
“When I decided to leave Tulane, Coach Janssen took a chance on me,” Robinson said. “He never saw me play. We just had a mutual friend. Janssen said come on down to Oklahoma and we'll see what happens.”
What happened was Robinson became one of the prominent power hitters in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association — and all of Division II — during 2013 and 2014 seasons. Robinson anchored the RiverHawks’ lineup with 16 home runs as a junior, which was good enough for second in the country. He followed his senior season with 18 home runs, good enough for third among national leaders.
Now he hopes his power numbers can land him a spot on a minor league roster. And he’ll find out if that’s a conceivable reality when Major League Baseball holds its annual first-year player draft later this week.
“I think it’s all of those things put together,” Robinson said when asked if he was nervous, anxious or eager about seeing or hearing his name called during the three-day event, which starts on Thursday.
“I’m anxious because you want to play at the highest level possible. I’m nervous because if I don’t get drafted to play at the next level, then my career is over. That’s a bitter pill to swallow — it’s one of those things I'm not looking forward to if I can't extend my playing career at the next level.”
He’s hoping his two-year totals for the RiverHawks will entice a Major League club to give him a chance. In 100 games at NSU, Robinson scored 87 times, drove in 103 runs and went from slugging .674 his junior season to .766 during his senior campaign. He also finished his senior season with a perfect fielding mark (1.000) and had four outfield assists.
“I do have an agent lined out, and there has been some communication between scouts and Coach Janssen, who is kind of the liaison,” said Robinson, a 6-foot-1, 200-pound outfielder from Sugar Land, Texas. “From what I’m hearing, if I’m able to make that jump to the next level, it’ll be as a corner outfielder.”
So would he prefer playing left or right field?
“I probably have a preference to play right field, because I’ve been there before,” said Robinson, who recently named a consensus All-American. “But if I get put in left field, maybe I’ll end up loving it as much as I did right field.”
As for which team he hopes drafts him, Robinson he’s open to playing for whomever.
“It's whichever one wants to take a chance on me,” Robinson said. “I'm good with it being the New York Yankees all the way to Houston Astros. I'd be happy going anywhere.”