The Cleburne Railroaders (independent; American Association) have announced that Josh Robertson will assume the role of General Manager for the 2020 season.
Robertson, who last week was named American Association Executive of the Year, spent the 2019 season as the Railroaders Director of Baseball Operations. Robertson will retain his duties pertaining to on-field personnel decisions in 2020, but will now team with Owner/President John Junker in the day-to-day operation of the organization.
“Josh has more than two decades of experience operating professional baseball franchises, giving him the smarts, savvy, and skill set to take the Railroaders to the next level,” Junker said. “His recognition as Executive of the Year demonstrates how highly regarded he is within the industry, and we’re proud to have an individual with such an unwavering commitment to building a winner in Cleburne.”
“I’m incredibly grateful for the ownership group and the Railroaders organization for entrusting me with this position,” Robertson said. “My family and I have felt so welcomed and embraced by the people here from day one, it’s a special place that I’m proud to be a part of. We’re excited about what we accomplished in 2019, but can’t wait to continue building the kind of championship-caliber organization that the Johnson County community deserves.”
Under Robertson’s direction, the Railroaders took major strides forward in their third season as a franchise. 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 named Postseason All-Stars.
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 Cleburne after success with the Wichita Wingnuts (independent; American Association), piling up an American Association-record seven straight division titles. In eleven 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. All told, 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/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 (Class AA; Texas League).