ST. LOUIS -- He may have thrown a pair of no-hitters as the ace for George County (Miss.) High School, but a look above Walker Robbins' locker gave away his future plans. There, on most given days, Robbins would have more than a half-dozen wooden bats stashed away.He'll get to
ST. LOUIS -- He may have thrown a pair of no-hitters as the ace for George County (Miss.) High School, but a look above Walker Robbins' locker gave away his future plans. There, on most given days, Robbins would have more than a half-dozen wooden bats stashed away.
He'll get to put those to use now after the Cardinals selected him to close out the fifth round of the 2016 MLB Draft. He was the first prep player plucked from the state of Mississippi, and he'll be putting on a Minor League uniform soon, he confirmed on Friday. Despite a college commitment to Mississippi State University, Robbins intends to follow in his oldest brother's footsteps and turn pro.
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"I'm just ready to get out and play," said Robbins, who has one brother (Mason) in the White Sox system and another (Logan) who is a member of the Jones County (Miss.) Junior College team that won the NJCAA Division II World Series last week. "There was always a lot of pressure put on me to be as good as my older brothers. But I feel they always pushed me to be the best that I could be."
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Robbins was the only high school player the Cardinals drafted on Friday, and he was thrilled to learn that the organization envisioned his future being as a position player. Robbins closed out his high school career by playing mostly at first base -- when he wasn't on the mound, of course -- though the Cardinals plan to first try him in the outfield.
Robbins' calling card, however, is his bat.
"Over and over, [our scouts] believed in the bat, and they believed in the upside of the bat," Cardinals scouting director Randy Flores said. "We feel that there is something in the way he approaches hitting the baseball in the batter's box that you just don't see in everyone."
His high school coach, Brandon Davis, saw it, too.
"I knew he was a hitter early on," Davis said. "When he started [on varsity] as an eighth grader for us, it was obvious he could hit. When we see it that young that they are able to handle that level and then that they continue to progress, you have a pretty good idea that something special is there and that they can make a living out of this."
Robbins, a left-handed hitter, batted .477 with three home runs and 16 RBIs his senior season. More than anything else, he was challenged by the fact that most teams pitched around him. That's one reason he took to pitching, as teams couldn't avoid him in that capacity. It also forced Robbins into some early lessons regarding plate discipline.
But when he did connect, Robbins turned heads. Davis told tales about the pair of 400-plus-foot home runs Robbins hit his senior season, and scouts lauded Robbins' ability to make line-drive contact to all fields. It's the sort of skill set in an 18-year-old that the Cardinals found too enticing to pass up.
"I think it all worked out that the Cardinals got a very good young man -- not just a baseball player, but he's a terrific young man who is driven to play," Davis said of the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Robbins. "His character is going to carry his talent a little further than someone who is just an athlete. I think the Cardinals won here by picking him."
Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast.