In a community where most of the gifted young athletes try their hands in multiple sports, Kyle Raubinger grew up with a one-track mind.
“My family’s the biggest baseball family you’ll ever meet,” said Raubinger, the recently graduated Arroyo Grande High star. “I’ve been playing since I was born, since I was 1.
“That’s all I’ve done,” Raubinger continued. “I’ve never really played any other sports. It’s all year-round. That’s pretty much been my life for a while. I go home after practice and I watch baseball. It’s pretty much all I watch, and it’s around me all day.”
Raubinger, The Tribune’s San Luis Obispo County Baseball Player of the Year, didn’t have much reason to dabble in anything else.
“He was lights-out on the mound and hit the ball extremely well,” Atascadero coach Paul Teixeira said.
Batting left-handed, the 6-foot-2, 200-pound Raubinger hit a team-best .419 with 25 RBI, an area-leading seven home runs and a PAC 7-high .814 slugging percentage. Pitching right-handed, he threw 61 2⁄3 innings with a 1.25 ERA and a league-leading 65 strikeouts.
He led the Eagles to a 21-8 overall record, a 14-4 mark in the PAC 7 for the program’s first league championship in eight years and to the second round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 2 playoffs.
Soon after the season came to an end, Raubinger — who had already signed with Loyola Marymount — was selected in the MLB Draft by the Baltimore Orioles in the 28th round as the 845th overall selection.
With pitch velocity reaching the low 90-mph range, Raubinger consistently was in command, walking only 12 of the 255 batters he faced as a senior — about one out of every 21.
“He became a very dominant high school baseball player,” Arroyo Grande coach Brad Lachemann said. “It’s a tribute to his work ethic. If he’s not in the (batting) cage, he’s out taking ground balls. It was just his job. That’s what he decided to do — to be the best baseball player possible and put every ounce of will into it. And the results speak for themselves.”
A season to remember
Coming into the season, expectations were high for Arroyo Grande, which finished one game behind league champ Paso Robles for the 2010 PAC 7 title.
A solid core of talent returned from that squad, and the Eagles’ starting rotation also included Cal Poly signee Colton Haynes and fellow senior Jesse Yancosek, who’s likely to pitch in the college ranks as well.
Ten games into their league schedule, the Eagles had a 7-3 record following an agonizing, nine-inning 1-0 loss to rival San Luis Obispo.
After that, though, Arroyo Grande went on a tear. The Eagles won the final two games of the San Luis Obispo series handily, and then dominated Righetti, sweeping the Warriors by a combined score of 44-10.
“Once the year started getting going and we got our position set, our whole team just got along so well,” Raubinger said. “The chemistry was what really made us as good as we were.”
The romp over Righetti set up a regular-season finale showdown against the defending champion Bearcats, who entered the series in second place. Knowing they needed to claim just one win to clinch the title, the Eagles didn’t have to wait long, winning the opener 4-3 in eight innings on the road.
In that win, Raubinger provided some of the most vital plays and enduring memories. He led off the top of the eighth with a double that made him 3 for 3 on the day and went on to score the go-ahead run. Then, with the title suddenly three outs away, Lachemann sent his ace to the mound in relief. Raubinger promptly recorded two strikeouts before inducing a game-ending pop-up.
Another defining moment came in the Eagles’ postseason opener, an 8-3 home win over South Hills of West Covina.
After giving up a home run in the top of the first to San Diego State-bound slugger Ty France, Raubinger returned the favor in the bottom of the inning, blasting his own homer off France. Raubinger went on to earn the complete-game win, giving up just three hits the rest of the way.
Bright future ahead
Raubinger really caught the attention of college and pro scouts in the summer following his junior year, when he was a member of the Milwaukee Brewers’ blue squad at the Area Code Games, an annual showcase in Long Beach. During that time, he was also the subject of a feature by the Los Angeles Times.
“I got to face the best competition in California,” he said.
Soon afterward, Raubinger accepted nearly an 85 percent-full scholarship from Loyola Marymount; full rides are scarce in college baseball. Last week, Raubinger said he hadn’t received an offer from the Orioles’ organization yet, and that the decision on whether he’ll go straight into the minors or play collegiately likely won’t be made until the end of the summer.
“I’m really blessed,” Raubinger said. “It’s a huge honor just to be drafted and just to get to have the decision to make whether to go play pro ball or to play in college. A lot of people dream about even having a scholarship offer, so that’s a huge honor, as well. Either way, I can’t go wrong.”
If he doesn’t turn pro now, he’ll have to wait until after his junior year of college to be draft-eligible again.
If Raubinger plays at LMU, the Lions have indicated they’d want to start him at third base, although he could also be worked in at first base and as a closer. He doesn’t have a position preference.
“I just want to hit,” Raubinger said with a smile. “Put me in the lineup and I’m fine.”
Part of Raubinger’s legacy, Lachemann said, is that his success has led to greater recognition of Arroyo Grande’s name among scouts throughout the region, which could open doors for future prospects.
“He really helped the school,” Lachemann said. “Now with a guy like (senior-to-be outfielder) Jordan Morrison, for example, they don’t say, ‘I’ve never heard of Arroyo Grande.’ They say, ‘Oh yeah, that’s where Raubinger’s from.’ ”