The Railroaders saw a 24-win improvement from 2018 to 2019, and as a result of that success, Cleburne Director of Baseball Operations Josh Robertson was named the American Association Executive of the Year.
Robertson shares the award with Derek Sharrer of the St. Paul Saints, who has now won or shared the award in each of the last five seasons. Despite a long resume of success, this is Robertson’s first Executive of the Year award.
“Josh has been instrumental in our success this season, both on the field and off,” Cleburne President and Co-Owner John Junker said. “We knew when we brought Josh into the fold that he was going to do some amazing things for the Railroaders and the Johnson County communities. We are blessed to have him as part of our organization and very happy his hard work has been recognized by the other members of our great league. The future is bright with Josh leading the charge.”
Under Robertson’s direction, the Railroaders took major strides forward in their third season as a franchise, and the first under Robertson.
On the field, Cleburne secured a franchise-best 57 wins, a 24-win improvement from the 2018 season and 10 more wins than the club’s inaugural campaign. The Railroaders finished in a tie for second in the South Division on the strength of several tremendous individual performances, as five Cleburne players were selected Midseason All-Stars and two were named Postseason All-Stars.
Cleburne also sold the contract of right-handed pitcher Steve Pastora to the Milwaukee Brewers, just the second player in franchise history to have his contract purchased by an affiliated club.
Robertson oversaw the hiring of an entirely new coaching staff of three former Major Leaguers in manager Brent Clevlen, hitting coach John Rodriguez and pitching coach Mike Jeffcoat. After finishing next-to-last in both OPS and ERA in the 2018 season, the ‘Roaders improved to third and second in those two categories, respectively.
The Railroaders drew 78,624 fans over the course of 50 home dates this season, an average of better than 1,500 per game. That number represented a 22 percent increase from the 2018 figure.
The Depot at Cleburne Station experienced several major upgrades during the 2019 season, with the addition of extended netting down both foul lines, a covered batting cage, and the installation of a ‘sport court’ beyond the right field fence.
Robertson came to Johnson County after helping construct one of minor league baseball’s winningest organizations while with the Wichita Wingnuts, piling up an American Association-record seven straight division titles.
In 11 seasons of play, the Wingnuts boasted a record of 678-459, including 28-23 in the postseason, giving them a .596 winning percentage overall that stands as the best in all professional baseball since 2008. Under Robertson, the Wingnuts secured a league-record eight division titles, reached the Championship Series in five of six years, and won the 2014 American Association Championship.
Robertson is largely responsible for the sale of 42 players to Major League organizations, including three active big leaguers in David Peralta, Junior Guerra, and James Hoyt.
The native Wichitan not only led the Wingnuts front office as president and general manager since the franchise’s inception in 2008, but also spent eight seasons as the assistant general manager and one as co-general manager for the former Kansas City Royals Double-A team, the Wichita Wranglers.