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Robles is jack of all trades

Alex Robles is not a typical baseball player.

He is not only a starting pitcher, but he has started a game in every infield position and has a career batting average of .339. He is the only two-way player in OVC history to earn a spot on the All-OVC team in two positions.

Robles was born in Mexico and moved to the U.S. around the age of 4. He originally moved to Sierra Vista, Arizona, but moved to Tuscon, Arizona, around the fifth grade.

At an early age, baseball was already in the works. Robles and his family packed up and moved to Tuscon, Arizona, to move into a better school district for high school baseball.

Robles’s father and both of his grandfathers played baseball, so taking it up was never a question.

“It kind of ran down with our family,” Robles said. “Even my mom played softball, so I was always around it.”

Robles attended Tucson High Magnet School where he was a three-sport athlete playing football, basketball and baseball.

After his sophomore year, he stopped playing football and basketball because he said he knew baseball was his passion and his ticket to college.

“I wasn’t going to go to college for any of those sports,” Robles said. “So I just decided to play baseball more and take it more seriously.”

At the start of senior year in any high school athlete’s career, the recruiting excitement begins. Robles said he talked to bigger schools such as the University of Oregon and New Mexico, but APSU felt a lot more at home for him.

Joel Mangrum, an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator in 2013, was in charge of recruiting Robles.

“[Mangrum] just really showed interest in me more than any other school,” Robles said. “He really wanted me and made me feel part of the family even thought I hadn’t committed here yet.”

During the heat of recruiting Robles, APSU was making some national noise. The Governors baseball team was one win shy from heading to the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska. The Govs had won the Ohio Valley Conference for the fourth year in a row. Their overall record was 47-15 and 22-7 in the conference.

“I liked the winning tradition that was here,” Robles said. “I wanted to be a part of this and fortunately everything worked out.”

During Robles’ first season in a Governors uniform, the team had almost the opposite season. The Govs went 23-33 after losing most of their players.

On the mound, Robles went 6-2 with an ERA of 3.63 in 84.1 innings pitched. On the other side, he hit an average of .349 with one home run and 73 hits in 56 games.

In 2014, Robles received many honors on conference and national levels.

He earned Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American, National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Freshman All-American, Baseball America 1st team Freshman All-American, Perfectgame.com 2nd team Freshman All-American, OVC Rookie of the Year, 2nd Team All-OVC for a starting pitcher, OVC All-Freshman team and Adidas OVC Player of the Week in April.

This was just the start of Robles’ awards and honors.

In the 2015 season, Robles went 6-3 with an ERA lower than last season, 3.31 in 84.1 innings pitched. His hitting average went down to .328 with two home runs and 59 hits in 49 games.

His 2015 awards included the John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year Top 10, 1st Team All-OVC as a starting pitcher, 1st Team All-OVC as a utility player and Louisville Slugger Preseason 2nd Team All-American.

This is the first time in OVC history one player has been named to the All-OVC team in two positions.

So far, Robles has been named to the 2016 Preseason All-OVC team as a starting pitcher and utility player.

In his time at APSU, Robles has worn the jersey number five. He used to be number one because of his dad, and number two because of Derek Jeter.

“When I got to high school, I said whatever number I get I’m going to stick with it,” Robles said. “I was a freshman and got moved up to varsity so they gave me number five because it was the smallest jersey they had. I stuck with it and luckily I got it here, too.”

Robles said his sophomore year was his favorite year at APSU, not only because of baseball, but also because it felt like he was on his own and was more comfortable and experienced in school. Robles said he thinks this year will be his best yet.

Over the summer, Robles had the experience of traveling to Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

Cape Cod is one of the most respectable summer leagues in baseball. Several current MLB players got their start at Cape Cod Summer League.

Current senior pitcher Jared Carkuff traveled to Cape Cod with Robles. The two played in Cape Cod with All-Americans, CWS winners, other conference winners and some of the best players in college baseball.

During the summer, Robles roomed with two Vanderbilt baseball players and his host mom.

“It was everything people talked about,” Robles said. “I got to play with potentially future major leaguers and that was just awesome. I made a lot of friends and it was such a great experience to play with people from California to Florida to Massachusetts.”

Robles said APSU was not an uncommon name. Because of their previous success in the climb to the CWS, schools such as the University of Florida had heard of APSU and its success.

“I even heard a few ‘Let’s Go Peay’ chants while I was there,” Robles said. “We’ve made our name for ourselves even for a small school.”

Every athlete has a weakness in the grind. There is always a least favorite part of practice, and Robles’s is running.

“I really don’t know how the track people do it,” Robles said.

On a sunny day in April of Robles’s freshman year, he pitched the game of his life. Robles faced Belmont at Old Timers Field at Shelby Park in Nashville, Tennessee, and earned a one-hitter.

His high school coach traveled from Tuscon, Arizona, and sat in the stands as he watched his former player toss nine innings with only one hit.

“All the cards were dealt perfectly that day,” Robles said. “Ever since that first pitch I just felt great and knew it was going to be a great day.”

The one hit came early in the game in the third inning with a blooper over the second baseman’s head. It never occured to Robles until about the eighth inning he was throwing a one-hitter.

This season, Robles said getting back to the OVC tournament is the first thing on the agenda for the team.

“We need to get back to when teams hated when we came into their place and they hated coming into our place,” Robles said.

Robles said he does not want to think too far ahead when it comes to life after college, but he thinks anyone who plays college baseball and does not want to go to the next level is wasting their time.

“You shouldn’t let it take over your mind, but you should keep it in your thought process and goals,” Robles said.

Robles looks to take the mound this weekend at Raymond C. Hand Park in Clarksville, Tennessee, against Bradley University.

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