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Quite the catch

John HartONE TO WATCH: 14-year-old Robbie Alcombrack is listed among America's top young catchers in Baseball America.
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

t was around 10:30 p.m. two Thursdays ago when Robbie Alcombrack decided it was just about time to hit the sack.

The phone rang.

It was his baseball coach, Rob Bruno.



Bruno asked his 14-year-old catcher if he’d perused the latest issue of Baseball America magazine.

“I said yeah, but I threw it away,” Alcombrack said. “He told me I was in it. I thought he was joking.”




Once he realized Bruno was serious, the Nevada Union freshman dropped the phone and headed downstairs.

He went straight for the trash can. He plucked the magazine out from under an empty can of creamed corn and flipped through the first 12 pages.

There, in a gray rectangular box – at the top right- hand corner of the next page – was his name.

The heading read: “The following are 14 of the nation’s best 14-year-olds.”

“It’s an honor,” Alcombrack said. “Knowing all of the other kids in the nation who go out there and work real hard and I’m one of the best is unbelievable.”

He may have been surprised, but Bruno wasn’t.

“He’s got a drive to be great. He takes his game seriously and he works very hard on it,” he said. “You’re not going to find too many 14-year-olds who are as focused as Robbie. We’ve had seven kids from our program go on to play professional ball as catchers, and I think he’s more advanced then they were at his age.”

Alcombrack, who was voted the most valuable player for Team USA at the Pan-American Junior Games in the summer of 2000, earned his spot among the nation’s best with big time performances at a number of national tournaments and showcases.

This year alone he’s been invited to play in three USA Baseball showcases, as well as the President’s Cup in Cuba, with the top 100 youth players in the nation at the Team One showcase in Jupiter, Fla., and a number of national and state competitions.

He also led his 15-and-under squad – the NorCal baseball club – to the Amateur Athletic Union national championship in Tennessee last July.

“I love the game (more than ever). Knowing how I’m moving up has (really motivated me),” he said. “This thing with the magazine has made me want to work even harder because I know I have people looking up to me.”

As workout schedules go, Alcombrack’s got one heck of a weekly regimen.

He puts in 45 minutes a day in the weight room with NU’s varsity squad, then he heads to the gym and batting cage his father Gary Alcombrack put together for him in town.

“I hit 250 balls, then I pitch and catch bullpen,” he said. “I work on my catching skills, blocking and footwork. It’s about three hours a day, five days week.”

As for the future, Alcombrack is thinking big.

“I want to play pro ball really, really bad,” he said. “I’d love to go through the college ball experience, but I really want to go pro right out of high school.”

Keith Jiron is a sports reporter for The Union. Write to him at


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