The Virgina Military Institute isn't necessarily known as a baseball powerhouse, but the program has produced a number of professional baseball players over the past several years. In each of the past seven drafts, a player from VMI has been selected, including in 2008 when Sam's older brother Mike was selected by the Milwaukee Brewers. Mike is currently playing in the High-A Florida State League as part of the Brewers' organization.
The Oakland A's have played a large part in the recent VMI draft history. In 2008, the A's took VMI left-hander Trey Barham in the 25th round. Barham has gone on to put together a solid career in the A's system as reliever and is currently a key member of the Double-A Midland bullpen. The next season Oakland selected Tanner Biagini in the 50th round, but did not sign him. The only player in VMI school history to make the major leagues is former A's right-hander Ryan Glynn.
Roberts' family connections in baseball extend past his older brother. His cousin Will Roberts was a fifth-round pick of the Cleveland Indians this season. Will threw a perfect game for the Virginia Cavaliers this season.
Like Will, Sam found success on the mound at VMI. Sam used his 89-92 MPH fastball, slider and change-up to rack up 34 strike-outs in 32 relief innings this season. When Sam wasn't on the mound, he was at shortstop, where he played solid defense and hit .347 with a .443 OBP. Roberts graduated from VMI as the program's all-time leader in a number of offensive categories, including hits and walks.
For now, the A's like Roberts best as a position player. He has appeared in 26 games for the short-season Vermont Lake Monsters this season and has demonstrated a knack for getting on-base. Despite batting only .221, Roberts has a .357 OBP thanks to 15 walks.
Donald Moore spoke with Roberts during the Lake Monsters' recent trip through upstate New York.
Donald Moore: Hi Sam, how is everything going this year?
Sam Roberts: It's going great. Season is going well. We are in first place right now, so everything is good.
DM: How are you adjusting to pro ball?
SR: I'm adjusting pretty good. I mean I'm getting my work in everyday, just having a blast.
DM: What are your goals for this season?
SR: To get better each and everyday and become a better player and person each day.
DM: What is your greatest strength as a ball player?
SR: Probably my defense. My defensive ability.
DM: What would you like to improve on?
SR: Everything needs improvement, but probably my reads on jumps on the bases.
DM: What do you like to do before you play a game?
SR: I like to see who is pitching for the other team, look at their stats and try to learn as much about the pitcher I can.
DM: Favorite thing to do off the field?
SR: Go to the movies and just hang out with my teammates.
DM: favorite team growing up?
SR: Atlanta Braves.
DM: Favorite player?
SR: Chipper Jones.
DM: If there is one person who taught you the most about baseball, who would that be?
SR: My father.
DM: Craziest thing you ever saw on a diamond?
SR: When I was 13 I was pitching, I turned a triple play. A guy bunted it right back to me, and I threw to second and the shortstop threw it to first for a triple play.
DM: Where do you see yourself five years from now?
SR: Hopefully still playing baseball, but if not, coaching baseball.
DM: Thank you so much for your time.