BY CHAD DARE firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — DANVILLE — Most high school seniors celebrate their graduation with a summer trip.
Danville High’s Chuckie Robinson III wasn’t sure what his plans were for this summer. The former Commercial-News Baseball Player of the Year was a top baseball prospect in the country and his future was dependent on the Major League Baseball Draft in early June.
When Robinson didn’t hear his named called or see it selected online, he started considering his options.
Enter the Midland Redskins out of Cincinnati.
“It was a little disappointing to not be drafted,’’ said Robinson. “But after looking at all the information that my family and my advisor had from the major league teams, we knew it wasn’t a case that I wasn’t good enough to be drafted. It was a business decision by the teams and their issue was signability.’’
According to multiple major league sources, Robinson was projected to be a top-20 round selection in the June draft.
“We had a number that we felt was reasonable,’’ Robinson said. “When I didn’t get drafted, I started looking for a place to play this summer.
“I didn’t really know a lot about the Midland Redskins, but they had contacted me about playing for them, and I did a little research.’’
What Robinson found out was the select team based out of Cincinnati has produced more than 60 Major League Baseball players, including Hall of Famer Barry Larkin and future Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. Also on their list of former big league players are St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, Cy Young winner Zack Greinke and current pitching phenom Matt Harvey.
“After seeing the players and the talent that has played on that team, I knew it was something that I wanted to be a part of,’’ Robinson said.
And this year, the Midland Redskins are 42-3 and the team has advanced to the Connie Mack World Series in Farmington, N.M. The Redskins will play the Texas Stix in an opening-round game on Saturday night.
“I’m really looking forward to the World Series,’’ said Robinson. “But, the wins and the losses are not the only reason that I’ve enjoyed my summer here in Ohio.’’
Robinson has gotten the opportunity to experience life away from home and family.
“I’m staying with host family, so I have two little host brothers along with a host mom and dad,’’ he said. “They helped me with my laundry and my meals. It’s basically just like living at home without your real family being around.’’
But, there is one thing they don’t have in Ohio.
“No, there is no Keg’s Bar-B-Que over here,’’ said Robinson, the grandson of Chuck Robinson Sr.
And these life experiences for Robinson are just as important as anything he has learned on the baseball field.
“Being around teammates and learning to live with new people has helped me grow,’’ he said. “I think this is really going to help me in my transition to Southern Mississippi University in the fall.’’
But, this isn’t just a summer vacation for Robinson.
“We have a trainer and we work out every day,’’ he said. “I feel like I’ve gotten stronger and faster this summer.
“I really think this has made me an even better baseball player.’’
According to Robinson, that was a big deal for his summer before college.
“I’m really looking forward to getting down to Hattiesburg to start working with my coaches down there,’’ he said. “I was down there for orientation earlier this summer and I can’t wait to be a college student.’’
And has that lessen his disappointment about not getting drafted in June?
“Oh yeah,’’ he said. “All that means is that I get three years to develop my game and get a great education along the way. And the next time the draft rolls around, hopefully everything will come together for me.’’
The Connie Mack World Series starts on Friday and the championship game is set for Friday, Aug. 9.
After that Robinson will get to spend about five days with his family in Danville before heading down to Hattisburg, Miss.
“I think my first day down there is like Aug. 16,’’ Robinson said. “So, I don’t get to spend a lot of time at home, but I’m really looking forward to those few days that I do get.’’