UTAH UTES

Utah Baseball Senior Kai Roberts Feeling At Home Leading First-Place Utes

Apr 30, 2024, 3:21 PM | Updated: 3:23 pm

kai roberts...

Utah senior centerfielder Kai Roberts slides home at Smith's Ballpark during the 2024 season. (Credit to Sophia Kuder, University of Utah Athletics)

(Credit to Sophia Kuder, University of Utah Athletics)

SALT LAKE CITY –  After nagging injuries limited him in 2023, Kai Roberts has been phenomenal at the plate and with the glove, leading the Utah baseball program on a magical run in its final season as a member of the Pac-12.

The former Skyridge Falcon is putting together a career year as a senior for the first-place Utes.

“What you have there is somebody who goes about his business the right way every day, and that spills over into the guy next to you,” fifth-year head coach Gary Henderson said of Roberts in his four years with the program.

RELATED: Utah Baseball Vaults Into Top 25 After Sweeping UCLA

Growing up with a father coaching at BYU, Roberts always assumed he would be a Cougar until he visited Henderson’s program at Utah.

“I spent my whole childhood there,” Roberts said of the BYU baseball program. “That was honestly my dream school until I came to Utah. It was a night and day difference, and I knew Utah was the place for me. I wanted to play in a Power Five conference and play against some pitchers that will end up pitching in the big leagues.”

Roberts considers himself fortunate that he has been able to spend his entire collegiate career playing so close to home.

“My parents rarely missed a home game. They’ve seen me play in something like 100 college games in person. That means the world to me to see my mom and dad up in the stands almost every home game.”

With his friends and family in the stands, Roberts has become a different player than in high school. Stolen bases have become a significant part of the senior’s game after he became the program’s all-time stolen base leader earlier this season. His third steal of the weekend against UCLA also put him atop the all-time single-season stolen base leaderboard, breaking a mark that had stood since 1997.

“I didn’t know I had speed until I got up here,” Roberts joked. “I wasn’t really a speed guy, but the strength program kind of changed my life.”

Roberts is focused on finishing his final year strong, but the Major League Baseball draft looms in July. “I don’t care where I end up; I just want to keep playing.”

“He likes to play, and he’s interested in getting better,” Henderson said. He moved to centerfield his sophomore year and has continued to get better. He’s elite defensively for college baseball. When you have somebody who is consistently working to get better, it tends to influence the guys around you.”

About Kai Roberts

After playing his prep baseball at nearby Skyridge High School, Roberts joined the Utes before the 2021 season. Roberts hit .370 across four seasons with the Falcons, earning first-team all-state recognition while playing for his father, Ryan Roberts.

Roberts’ freshman year at the U was a testament to his versatility. He started 25 games at third base while also appearing in the outfield and as the designated hitter. His performance matched his adaptability, hitting .291 with 15 doubles, two triples, two homers, and 26 RBI.

In his sophomore campaign, Roberts shifted away from third base to start 50 games in the outfield. He finished the year with the Utes’ second-best on-base percentage, reaching a .410 clip. The left-handed hitter tallied 14 doubles, four home runs, and 35 RBI while scoring a team-high 43 runs.

RELATED: Utes Close Out Weekend Of Strong Performances For Spring Sports

Roberts was limited to 46 games (44 starts) in 2023. He ended the year with a .266 batting average, and his 11 doubles, 34 walks, and 11 stolen bases were the second most team-wide. The 6’5 outfielder had 15 multi-hit games on the year and finished the season on a nine-game hitting streak.

Heading into his senior season, Roberts was rated by D1Baseball.com as the No. 26 Pac-12 prospect ahead of the 2024 MLB Draft.

“He’s an awesome leader,” junior closer Micah Ashman said of his centerfielder and formerly high school basketball foe. “Not a super vocal guy that will be screaming at you all the time. He’s always going about his work the way he should, and it makes me want to go out there and get better. He sets a great example and is just a really good dude.”

Follow The Utah Utes With KSL Sports

Utah travels to the Emerald City for a three-game series against the Oregon Ducks (29-14,12-9) beginning on Friday, May 3. First pitch at PK Park on Friday is at 7:05 p.m. MT.

The Utes sit atop the Pac-12 regular season standings, tied with the Arizona Wildcats at 14-7 in conference play. Utah received 11 votes in the latest USU Today Top 25.

You can find KSL Sports coverage of the Utes here.

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Utah Baseball Senior Kai Roberts Feeling At Home Leading First-Place Utes