OXFORD – In Errol Robinson’s opinion, this is as good as it gets.
Truth is, it can get better for the junior Ole Miss shortstop, at least from a pro baseball perspective, and it will if the 2016 season plays out for him like many think it will.
Robinson has been named a first-team preseason All-American by both Baseball America and D1Baseball.com.
Now draft eligible, he’s rated among the top college prospects at his position. D1Baseball.com lists Robinson as its No. 28 draft prospect, its No. 1 shortstop. Baseball America rates him the SEC’s No. 10 draft prospect and No. 1 shortstop.
“Honestly, I’m so blessed to be here, blessed to be in this position, and I’m just trying to make the most of it. If you have a position like this, and you’re playing SEC baseball on TV and in front of crowds, there’s nothing better than this,” Robinson said.
Robinson and his Ole Miss teammates are 10 days away from the start of the season. The Rebels take on Florida International in the first of three games on Feb. 19 at 1 p.m. at Swayze Field.
Since arriving from Boyds, Maryland, Robinson’s winning smile and enthusiasm, his hugs for supporters in an autograph line, his interaction with them on social media, have all combined to make him a fan favorite.
“Fans love him. There’s a lot of electricity on the field when he’s playing,” Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said.
Fans also gravitate to successful players. Robinson hit near .300 in each of his first two seasons. He led the Rebels with 62 hits last year. He increased his fielding percentage from his freshman season to .953 last year.
That said, he’s sometimes flown under the radar below high profile shortstops at rival SEC schools. LSU’s Alex Bregman and Vanderbilt’s Dansby Swanson come to mind.
Now with the draft coming into view, Bianco believes Robinson’s name will get more play.
“Because he was not draft-eligible, he was flying under the radar. Then he goes up in the Cape Cod League this summer and hits around .330 and kind of makes a name for himself. Other teams knew about him, but where the hype comes is from the pro side. Sometimes that doesn’t happen until you’re draft-eligible,” Bianco said.
Robinson finished his Cape Cod summer with a .312 average, and his 44 hits tied for second on the team.
He led the team with 15 stolen bases – four more than the 11 he totaled in his first two college seasons – and hopes to be more of a base-running threat at Ole Miss.
“That was huge for me, because that’s not really an admirable stat that I have here,” Robinson said. “It was a good summer and really boosted my confidence.”
Now Robinson wants to be a leader on a team that is far more experienced than last year’s that went just 15-14 in non-conference play and needed a late push against Mississippi State and Texas A&M to finish one game over .500 in the SEC regular season.
If Mr. Robinson has a big year the Rebels themselves might fly higher on the radar.
Until then, he wants to make the right adjustment on the next pitch and enjoy the day.
“I have a love for the game, and I love this platform. My biggest thing is to influence people in a correct and respectable way.”