First Posted: 6/21/2009
Robbie Monday, a former Surry Community College baseball standout and East Wilkes graduate, is spending this summer swinging a wood bat in the Midwest.
Monday, who recently completed his junior year at UNC Wilmington, is playing in the collegiate Prospect League. He is suiting up for the Northcoast Knights from Lorain, Ohio. Monday is playing first base and batting clean-up, according to his dad, Keith Monday.
The Knights feature college players from all over the country and are coached by Texas Techs Andy Jarvis. As of Tuesday, Northcoast had a 4-7 record.
The Prospect League was known until recently as the Central Illinois Collegiate League. It has added teams and expanded its reach from Missouri to Pennsylvania for 2009.
Monday was one of three UNCW players to make the Colonial Athletic Association all-star squad this spring. He batted .293 for the season, with a team-high 12 home runs, 38 RBIs and 32 runs. Against conference foes, Monday hit .359 with eight homers and 24 RBIs.
Area product drafted by Cubs
Yadkinville native Corey Martin wasnt listening when his name was called in last weeks Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.
It was day two of the three-day event, and the senior starting pitcher for Western Carolina University was just too nervous to keep his eyes and ears glued to coverage.
By the 25th round, he turned everything off and looked for something else to do in his Cullowhee apartment.
To be honest, I wasnt expecting to get drafted on the second day, Martin said. Because Im a senior, I have less negotiating leverage with scouts. College seniors usually get drafted on the third day, so I went to play video games to get it off my mind.
Then the phone rang.
It was Coreys dad, Phil Martin, delivering news that his son had been picked by the Chicago Cubs in the 27th round, with overall pick No. 830.
While Corey couldnt listen to the draft, his parents couldnt not listen, keeping an audio feed of the draft going all day on their computer at their Yadkinville home. They didnt miss the big moment.
We were fortunate to hear his name called, Phil Martin said. Ill admit I did go out in the yard and let out a scream. His mom said whoopee!
A phone call to Corey from the Cubs organization followed shortly after the official announcement, and that began a whirlwind which could see Martin pitching in a professional game as early as this weekend.
Martin was scheduled to fly to Mesa, Ariz. on Tuesday to meet with Cubs officials at the franchises spring training complex. There, hell sign his contract and be evaluated by team personnel.
If deemed ready and in good shape, he could be in Boise, Idaho by the end of the week. Boise is home to the Cubs short-season Single A team, the Boise Hawks.
Hopefully I can go to Mesa and be ready, so they can send me straight to Boise, Martin said Monday afternoon after a personal workout.
Martin graduated from Forbush in 2005 after playing three varsity seasons for coach Jack Moss. He becomes the second former Falcon to be picked in the MLB draft since the calendar rolled into the 2000s.
Cody Dickens was the other, going in the 50th round in 2002 to the Angels out of high school and then to the White Sox in the 14th round in 2003 after a year at Surry Community College.
Western Carolina (35-22 in 2009) had four players picked in this years draft. The first was junior Nick Liles of Laurinburg, who went in the seventh round to the Giants.
Martin was a starting pitcher for Forbushs junior varsity team as a freshman, then got the call-up to varsity as a sophomore, mostly to play right field.
My junior year is when I really took off, he said. I went from pitching in the low 80s (mph) to the upper 80s.
He didnt get a lot of attention from college programs or pro scouts until participating in the State Games of North Carolina the summer between his junior and season years at Forbush.
He started the first game for his State Games team.
I threw three innings and went nine-up, nine down, Martin said. The game was played in front of a bunch of scouts. Shortly after that, Western Carolina called and offered me a scholarship. I accepted it right away. It was an offer I couldnt refuse.
Martin made 18 appearances (26.2 total innings) as a freshman with the Catamounts, posting an 8.78 ERA. He transitioned from reliever into starter as a sophomore, finishing with an overall record of 5-3, with one save. In his first start, he tossed six shutout innings, giving up only one hit,
By the middle of his sophomore season, Martin had secured the Sunday starter role, which meant facing top conference competition most outings.
That was the most Ive pitched in my life, Martin said of the 2007 season. It overloaded my elbow and I had surgery after my sophomore year.
Martin credits Western pitching coach David Haverstick for continuing his strong development curve the past two seasons. He made a steady recovery from his surgery last spring and ended up with a 2-2 record, eventually winning back his Sunday starter role.
This spring was his career best. He won seven games (7-4 overall record) and was named the Southern Conferences Pitcher of the Week in mid-April.
My pitching coach at Western took me from being an upper 80s guy into the 90s, Martin said of his fastball velocity. He freed me up to pitch in a way that was most comfortable to me. He personalized everything where I could pitch my best.
Martin got phone calls from several pro scouts this spring and was invited to work out for the Reds in Charlotte a few weeks ago. He believes the Cubs organization will use him as a reliever, at least initially. During his workout with the Reds, Martin threw to eight batters, touching 93 and 94 miles per hour consistently during that stretch.
Martin is a self-professed Yankees die-hard but understands well the history and lore of the team that drafted him. After getting picked, Martin went out and bought himself some Cubs gear.
It was always a dream of mine (to play professional baseball) but to be honest I never thought it would happen, he said. There were a lot of people who said Id never even make it to college.
Id like to thank everybody who supported me along the way, my parents and my dad especially. He drove me all over the Southeast to play baseball. I didnt really go to a lot of pitching lessons and all that, but he took me where I needed to go.