You are considered one of the top 100 players in the nation according to Prospects Plus, a publication written by Baseball America and Perfect Game USA, two of the most well-known amateur baseball publications. I'm sure their evaluation is based on the fact that you can throw your fastball in the 88-90 mph range. I'm just curious how much you have improved since your sophomore year.
"My sophomore year I was consistently around 86 to 89 (mph). During a couple of showcase camps that I went to, I hit 90 and 91. At a Team One camp at Notre Dame I hit 91."
That is really fast for a junior. How old are you?
"I turned 17 on December 7th."
I know you are 6-1 now. How much have you grown since last year?
"I was right at 5-11, maybe even 6-0 when I was a sophomore."
You mentioned that you went to a couple of showcases, where was the other showcase camp that you went to?
"I also went to a Perfect Game showcase in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. I had a football game on Friday night and it was on a Saturday. I drove seven hours to get to the camp. As soon as I got out of the car, they said they needed me to pitch."
I bet that was tough on you.
I've always heard the warmer it is, the harder a pitcher can throw. Have you been to any showcases located in the south?
"In January, I went to Vero Beach, Florida for an All-American team. It was done in front of a lot of coaches and scouts."
Did they evaluate you based on that appearance?
"They put on the internet how fast you threw and that you were a rookie All-American."
You seem to have learned early that going to the showcases is a good way to get your name out. When did you start going to showcases?
"My dad is a high school coach. The head coach had been telling him that we really needed to start going to some of the bigger camps. We then decided to go to Perfect Game and Team One and a few colleges this past summer, because we felt that would get my name out a little better."
What kind of results have you seen from going to the showcases?
"They evaluated what I was doing wrong and what level I was competing at. I started realizing that I did have talent."
You mentioned that you have gone to college camps. I know you attended the Mississippi State winter camp. Have you attended any other college camps?
"I had previously gone to Ohio State University's camp and the University of Cincinnati and Ball State University camps. I basically wanted to stay in the local area because of school."
How did you wind up at the Mississippi State camp?
"I just had a great feeling about going down south. I have always heard great things about Mississippi State and I wanted to meet Coach Polk. I didn't get to meet Coach Polk because he came in Sunday. (The camp was on a Saturday.-Gene). I still enjoyed talking to Coach Raffo and Coach Rock."
What did you think about the Mississippi State camp? Did you learn much from it?
"I learned a lot from comprehending what he was saying. He talked to me like I was already in college. Just the way he talked made me feel like I was at a higher level of baseball."
I know there were a lot of college coaches and pro scouts at Mississippi State's camp. Did that make you nervous seeing all of them watching you pitch?
"Yes sir, knowing they were closer to me than usual almost made me feel like a goldfish in a tank."
Did they evaluate you at the end of the one-day camp?
"No, not really. They thanked me for coming down and told me that I did a really good job. They said that they hoped to hear from me every now and then."
I know as a junior you can't receive calls from coaches, but you can receive letters. What schools are showing interest in you?
"I've probably received a total of 70 to 75 letters. I've received letters from Ball State University, the University of Cincinnati, and other local colleges. Arizona State has been seeding me letters almost every week. I've had a few letters from Florida State University. I would have to say that Mississippi State's letters have been my favorite."
What is it about Mississippi State's letters that make you like them so much?
"Just the words that they use. They just caught my eye. Being a Diamond Dog sounds pretty good to me. Plus, wherever I go (to college), I want to go to the College World Series. With Coach Polk being there - they say he is the greatest coach in the country - I have a feeling that he is the coach that could get me there and get me more exposure."
Do you plan on attending any college camps during the summer?
"Well, playing on the traveling team, the Bulls, and the Area Code games, I really don't think much about college camps during the summer."
Do you play any other sports?
"I play football and have also wrestled."
Tell me a little about how you've done in the other sports.
"I made All-State as a punter. I quit wrestling this past year because I didn't want to take a chance hurting my arm."
Thank you, Robbie.
I next talked to Robbie's dad, Ted Wooley. Mr. Wooley has been coaching high school baseball for the past 14 years.
I know you are Robbie's dad but you also coach him in high school, so you know his talent level based on being around baseball talent for many years. Talk a little about Robbie as a baseball player.
"I have been coaching high school baseball for 14 years. When he was born, he had a baseball in his hand just like my other son. I am a big baseball fan all the way. As far as the kind of arm he has, I have never had anything like it. His arm is amazing. As far as the rest of his game, he is average. He is just an average hitter and fielder. But, when it comes to his arm, his is definitely superior. I have coached him in little league as well as high school. He was overpowering in little league."
I'm just curious about something, Robbie mentioned how highly he thought of Mississippi State baseball coach Ron Polk. How did Robbie find out about Coach Polk?
"I have heard Coach Polk talk at a couple of seminars that I went to. The guy is truly amazing. In fact, I have bought (Polk's) book and it is like a bible. That is why I told Robbie, 'if you ever get a chance to play for that guy, that is the guy to play for'."
You came down with Robbie for the MSU camp. What did you think about MSU?
"I was really impressed with it down there. It kind of looked like the campus was there and the city was built right around it. That was kind of neat."
I won't take any more of your time. Thanks for taking the time to talk to me.
Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page, the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports on the internet. The URL for Gene's Page is http://mississippistate.theinsiders.com. You can contact him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.