Ontario Blue Jays Director of Operations Dan Bleiwas talks about Jacob Robson, a member of his Ontario Blue Jays 18-U team. The Ontario Blue Jays is a baseball organization based out of Mississauga, Ontario, whose purpose is to train young talent and prepare them for baseball after high school. They have had numerous players play college baseball and have seven of their players on Team Canada's Junior team roster.
"He made his verbal commitment known to (Mississippi State head) Coach (John) Cohen last evening (May 17th)," said Bleiwas.
Bleiwas commented on some things that factored into Robson choosing Mississippi State.
"I don't presume to talk for Jacob on that but there are a few things that I do know," said Bleiwas. "Obviously, Mississippi State's reputation is second to none. The quality of the program both currently and historically is outstanding. And John Cohen himself. John is an outstanding coach. And John, in large part, handled the recruitment himself. Whenever we are sending players so far away from home there is always going to be a trust factor. And there were a lot of good programs that were involve in recruiting Jacob, over 75 programs. I have never seen anything like it (recruiting-wise). I've been doing this for a long time and he is the most recruited player that we have ever had from Canada. It's a credit to John and his staff that Jacob chose Mississippi State."
Because Jacob's recruitment was on such a large scale, Jacob and his family, with Coach Bleiwas' help, considered all the programs involved, then narrowed it down to a select few.
"He was contacted by over 75 programs and we narrowed it down to 4 or 5 over the last month or two," said Bleiwas. "He turned down TCU, Oklahoma State and Stetson. Those were kind of his finalists. He also considered Vanderbilt but that never got to the point of a formal offer. The concern with Vanderbilt was their need for outfielders. I think with most programs they want to find a player with his ability but (Jacob) wanted to find a program with a genuine need (for him). Coach Cohen was pretty clear there was a need, although he didn't make any guarantees or promises and the family wouldn't expect him to. At the same time, we feel there is an opportunity for Jacob to go in and earn some playing time right away. But that will be up to Jacob."
Bleiwas already has a trust factor with John Cohen due to knowing him for about a decade.
"I've known John Cohen for a long time, since he was an assistant at Florida," said Bleiwas. "He actually signed one of my players when he was an assistant coach at the University of Florida, although that player didn't actually get to campus because he was drafted and ended up signing with the (San Diego) Padres. He's in the Big Leagues now. He's a catcher named George Kottaras who is with the Milwaukee Brewers."
Like Kottaras before him, Robson is also considered one of the top players in Canada. Bleiwas explained why he is so highly regarded.
"The first thing that is going to jump out at you is his footspeed, he is a 6.5 to 6.4 footspeed runner," said Bleiwas. "He has top of the order ability, great onbase ability for a young player. He is also a tremendous hitter. The other thing he does well is he's an excellent defender who really uses his speed well."
However, like any youngster, there are still some things that Robson needs to improve.
"There are still things he needs to improve on due to being a young player, such as maturity and baserunning ability," said Bleiwas. "Obviously, he is going to gain some of that experience this summer with our program and with Team Canada."
And the experience he will receive and has received with the Ontario Blue Jays will be invaluable for Jacob when he starts playing college ball because playing college baseball teams won't be a new experience for the youngster.
"What we do with the Ontario Blue Jays is travel and play colleges," said Bleiwas. "We are an international team so the NCAA allows (colleges) to play one game against us over and above the 56 games they are allowed to play. As an example, we were at the University of Florida, preparing to play against an SEC opponent but it got rained out after batting practice. They are on our fall schedule. We play them, Florida State, Clemson, among other programs. We play everything from small junior colleges to, as you can tell, some of the top programs. We also do a summer travel schedule. Our kids will be in Memphis, Miami and other places this summer."
Something else that could affect Jacob this summer is the Major League Baseball Draft. Obviously, it is every college coach's concern that his top rated players might get drafted and forego college if the pro team comes in with an offer he can't refuse. Coach Bleiwas offered his opinion about Jacob's draft status and the possibility of him signing.
"He is definitely a professional prospect and is on everybody's radar," said Bleiwas. "I think I have heard from 28 to 30 clubs regarding him. But he is an outstanding student and has made it very clear that at this point of his career school is his priority. He wants to play college baseball and he wants to play in the SEC and he wants to play for the Bulldogs. Obviously, barring a knock your socks off offer, which the new (Major League Baseball) Collective Bargaining Agreement probably prevents from happening, I don't think there is any danger of him not being on campus come August."
Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.