Mitchell Robinson’s coach calls him ‘old-man Robo.’
The nickname stems from the fact just how much Robinson has changed in the three years since he joined the Langley Blaze.
“I nicknamed him that because he looks like a man (now),” said Jamie Bodaly, the coach of the U18 Premier baseball team.
“He was just this fresh-faced kid; he even sounded like a kid.
“Now, he could pass off as a 24-year-old or something.”
But Robinson, who is now six-foot-three and 200 pounds, has developed — both physically and as a player.
And on Saturday, the first step towards a childhood dream came true as Robinson was selected in Major League Baseball’s first-year player draft.
The Miami Marlins picked Robinson in the 22nd round of the 40-round draft.
“It has been a huge goal and a dream (to get drafted),” the 18-year-old said.
“Getting drafted is something that motivates a lot of players.
“It is a huge accomplishment and very rewarding for all the hard work I have put in.”
Robinson was one of two members of the Blaze to get selected as the New York Mets took his teammate, left-handed pitcher Kurtis Horne in the 31st round.
Robinson knew the Marlins were interested as he had spoken to one of their area scouts multiple times.
Last year, he hit .366 with 34 RBIs in 45 games and in his first year at the Premier level, he hit .327 with 16 RBIs in 38 games.
The third-baseman is hitting .321 (second on the team) with nine RBIs in 21 games.
“I think I have come a long way in the past couple of years,” he said.
“I think I provide power in the line-up and can be a game-changing hitter.”
And it is Robinson’s bat which provides the biggest impact from his game.
“He is a kid who has played hard to get to where he is,” said Greg Hamilton, the long-time coach of Canada’s junior national team program.
“Physically, he is a big strong kid. Strong arm, some thump in his bat.”
Robinson has been on the Baseball Canada radar since Grade 10. He was cut the first year, was a role player on last year’s squad, and a big contributor this spring.
The team was in the Dominican Republic last month for their annual trip.
“Getting the chance to represent your country and wearing Canada on the chest, that is a huge honour,” he said. “And with that is great exposure and great experiences.
“It was really special.”
“To his credit, Mitchell has stuck with it and dealt with the adversity of not making it as a very young player,” Hamilton said.
“Often times it is a step or two backwards in order to go two or three forward. He has done that.”
“The game will deal you a hand of adversity at some point and time,” the coach added.
“Most have to deal with that (and) he has been very mature with how he has handled every aspect of his development.”
Robinson said getting cut from the Canadian team two years ago wasn’t much of a surprise considering his age. Instead, he used it as a learning experience.
“I was still pretty young and developing,” he admitted.
“It was my first taste and I learned a little about what it was all about.”
Robinson knew he had to put in the work to get bigger and stronger.
“(Getting cut) drove me to work harder and get better,” he said.
His work ethic is a major part of his success.
“He has got great make-up, a real character kid, hard-working, real hungry and focused,” Hamilton said.
“He is pretty much the whole package,” added Bodaly. “He does a lot of things right.
“And he is a very humble kid, down to earth, quiet, not a rah-rah type, but a leader by example.
“The kids look up to him.”
Now comes the next chapter in Robinson’s baseball career.
Robinson, who is set to graduate from Clayton Heights Secondary later this month, has a four-year scholarship offer to Florida International University.
If he attends university, Robinson would be re-eligible for the draft following his junior season.
Or he can turn pro and sign with the Marlins and go into the team’s farm system.
He can’t make a decision until after he graduates.
“I am excited with moving forward with whatever path I choose,” Robinson said.
“I just love to play. No matter what happens (next), I will just go about my business and play the game.”