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Prep baseball: East’s Bradley Robbins commits

By Mike London
mlondon@salisburypost.com
GRANITE QUARRY ó East Rowan baseball coach Brian Hightower doesnít take any credit for the success of Bradley Robbins, who has committed to Tallahassee Community College.
ěSometimes youíre born with it, and Bradley was just born with one heck of a right arm,î Hightower said. ěA great live arm. Every college coach that comes through wants to see him throw.î
Hitters watched what Robbins threw a lot more often than they hit what he threw last spring. East won every game he started.
Sometimes Robbins had his hopping fastball. Sometimes he had a nasty slider. Sometimes his changeup was mystifying. And if he had all three on the same night, you could go ahead and make the ědrive home safelyî announcement in the second inning. He finished a dominant junior season with a 10-1 record and a 1.01 ERA.
As a sophomore getting spot-duty on a 3A state championship team, Robbins struck out 31 in 281/3 innings, but he walked 16 and it seemed like the count went full on every hitter. The tenser the situation, the harder he tried to throw, and the more erratic his control got.
Obviously, he developed as a junior, getting a much firmer grip on his talent. His confidence improved and he benefitted from tweaks made by pitching coach Brian Hatley.
ěHuge strides as a junior,î Hightower said. ěEspecially when you look at his strikeouts-to-walk ratios.î
As the countyís top hurler last season, Robbins nearly had three Ks for every walk. He fanned 88 in 621/3 innings.
Then he was 4-2 for the Rowan County American Legion team last summer while pitching in several roles.
ěLegion ball is where some guys first saw me,î Robbins said. ěThey told the recruiters at Tallahassee about me.î
Tallahasseeís coaches welcomed Robbins for a visit. He liked what he saw.
ěI loved the school and really had a blast down there,î Robbins said. ěItís kind of a quaint campus with a bunch of restaurants close by, and itís only about two miles from Florida State.î
The weather will be a bonus. Conditions are rarely ideal for prep baseball in North Carolina in March and April, but Florida temperatures should be favorable.
The competition level will also be a plus. The Florida junior college circuit has been a springboard for countless major league careers.
TCC isnít a baseball factory, but MLB fans will remember Ryan Freel, a hustling TCC product who spent eight years in the big leagues. Then thereís prospect Lorenzo Cain, a former TCC outfielder expected to make an impact with Kansas City next spring.
Hightower believes Robbinsí arm is lively enough that two years at Tallahassee will lead to a four-year college and potentially to a pro career.
ěHeís a fun-loving guy, but nobody is more serious than he is on Tuesdays and Fridays,î Hightower said. ěHeís a competitor ó very hard to beat.î
With ace closer Will Johnson gone, Hightower will look for complete games from Robbins in 2012, and he may even ask him to close on occasion.
Robbins is ready to do whatever it takes to keep the Mustangs rolling.
ěI want to end high school on a good note,î Robbins said. ěI want to win state.î
Robbins plans to sign with TCC in January.

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