Yankees like makeup of Army ace Robinett
Righty had no-hitter and 21-K game as senior, drafted in 32nd round
NEW YORK -- The Yankees revived a classic tradition prior to the 2013 season, scheduling a meeting with the Army Black Knights as their final exhibition of the spring and providing their big leaguers with a rare and enjoyable opportunity to mingle at West Point.
Two years later, they have invited one of those cadets to try a pinstriped uniform on for size. The Yankees selected Army West Point senior right-handed pitcher Alex Robinett in the 32nd round (963rd overall) of the MLB Draft, marking the 12th player in Academy history to be drafted.
Damon Oppenheimer, the Yankees' vice president and director of amateur scouting, said that their reviews of Robinett's talent and makeup made him an enticing pick late in the Draft.
"If it clicks, it's worth the gamble," Oppenheimer said. "At that point, I thought it was definitely worth the risk. It's West Point; you know you're getting makeup, you know you're getting perseverance. It's great."
Robinett, who was recently commissioned as a second lieutenant, was Army's ace throughout his senior season. The Bend, Ore., native hurled the fifth no-hitter in Academy history, blanking Longwood in a 1-0 victory, and also set the school's single-game strikeout record, fanning 21 batters in Army West Point's 8-0 shutout of Air Force.
It marked the most strikeouts by a Division I pitcher since Stephen Strasburg fanned 23 for San Diego State in 2008. Robinett, 22, is expected to sign a contract shortly and would be assigned to one of the Yankees' Minor League affiliates.
"He'll be able to play with us the first year," Oppenheimer said. "Then he'll have to do his service commitment, and hopefully we'll be able to get him back into using his baseball muscles and see if he can become a Yankees prospect."
Overall, Robinett posted a 2.01 ERA with 92 strikeouts and held opponents to a .194 average, all three finishing second-best among Patriot League pitchers.
Named to the Northeast All-Region First Team, Robinett issued just 16 walks while hurling eight complete games and three shutouts, finishing the year 6-5 in 80 2/3 innings.
He completed his career with a 22-13 record, including 14 complete games, and stands sixth in the Patriot League career record book in wins (22), third in strikeouts (281) and seventh in ERA (2.57).
The Yankees' March 30, 2013, visit to West Point was their first since 1976, and the first by a Major League club since 1986. The Yankees defeated the Black Knights, 10-5, improving their all-time record against Army to 22-0.