By: Dan Crowley
Confident yet unassuming, he is mature beyond his years.
The starting right fielder for the Bourne Braves, Mason Robbins, is making it look easy. But it isn’t, and he’ll be the first to tell you how much dedication and hard work it takes to play baseball at the Division I level and in the Cape Cod Baseball League.
Last spring he hammered the ball for the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles and he has carried that power through into the summer as he is leading the Bourne Braves at the plate with a .667 slugging percentage.
Some might argue that the pitching is down this summer or that the ball is different. Maybe the BBCOR bats used in college are a lot like hitting with a wood bat or maybe, just maybe, the guys swinging the bats are bigger and stronger. Whatever the combination of factors might be, Robbins is swinging a big bat for Bourne, enough to earn himself a starting role in this year’s Cape Cod Baseball League All-Star game.
He was drafted out of George County High School in Lucedale, Mississippi, in the 20th round of the 2011 June Major League Baseball amateur draft. There was never any question—he wanted to go to college and play baseball in college.
Immediately, Robbins made his presence known at the University of Southern Mississippi. He was a power hitter in high school, but this spring with the Golden Eagles he hit .330 and led the team in slugging with a .470 average. As a result he was named the Conference USA Freshman of the Year, a Freshman All-American by Baseball America, a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American by Collegiate Baseball and, to top it all off, he was named to the Southern Mississippi Athletic Director’s Honor Roll. Of the nine Golden Eagles to play summer baseball, he is the only one invited to play on the Cape this summer.
“In my junior and senior years in high school, I hit for power,” the 19-year-old Braves’ right fielder said. “The new bat changed my game. I hit for power my freshman year in college but not like high school.”
With the BBCOR bat, Robbins wasn’t knocking as many balls out of the park for the Golden Eagles, but he was slugging more doubles (11) and triples (5). He finished the spring at Southern Miss with three home runs.
“I was hitting well this spring,” he said, “and then our hitting coach pulled me aside and told me some things I needed to do to get better.”
This summer Robbins is putting that advice to the test.
“I’m a mellow, low-key type of player,” he said. “I’m not showy. I’m just trying to stay within myself, not do too much and do what I can do to help our team.”
The talented Golden Eagle can also pitch and coming from the left side is a valuable commodity. He made six starts this spring and four more appearances out of the bullpen, compiling a 1-0 record and a 4.01 ERA.
“I’m more of a contact pitcher,” Robbins said. “I get ground balls and fly balls. I don’t strike out a lot of guys.”
Robbins, who struck out 12 in 27 innings of work this spring, throws a fastball, slider and curve. He has not taken the mound for the Braves this summer.
“I’d rather hit,” the 6-1, 200-pound right fielder said. “I’ve been doing that longer and when you’re in the field you have a chance to play more.”
To date Robbins counts his two-run, game-winning double in the top of the ninth inning last Friday night at Falmouth and his game-clinching, walk-off-inside-the-park home run Saturday night in the bottom of the 14th inning against Yarmouth-Dennis as summer highlights. However, he has yet to play in the Cape Cod Baseball League All-Star game or take part in the Home Run Derby, and there are still 11 games remaining in the regular summer season.
While enjoying a successful Cape League season, he is also enjoying another sport for which Cape Cod is well known—golf.
“I didn’t begin to play until I was a junior in high school,” Robbins said. “Golf is different from any other sport. I think it’s more humbling than baseball.”
Every chance he gets this summer, Robbins is on the golf course. Living in Bourne he has played mostly on the Eagle course at the Massachusetts Military Reservation and at Brookside.
But, while golf is for fun and relaxation, baseball, Robbins hopes, will be his career.
“Playing baseball has been my dream since I was 4 years old,” he smiled. “I wanted to play in college. I knew it would help my game and with experience. Everybody wants to go to the next level. I’d like to play at that level someday.”
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