Tournaments : : Rankings
Monday, May 17, 2010

East Cobb Astros Top 14U Rankings

Jim Ecker        
Editor’s Note: Perfect Game USA will be announcing its preseason Top 25 rankings this week for summer travel teams. We start today with the 14U rankings, followed by the 15U rankings (Tuesday), 16U rankings  (Wednesday), 17U rankings(Thursday) and 18U rankings (Friday). We’ll announce the teams that received honorable mention next week.
Dave Roberts has won seven national titles and compiled a gaudy 278-24-1 record with the East Cobb Astros 14U baseball program the last four years. Not bad for a lawyer who played football (not baseball) in college.

The entire East Cobb baseball program has a rich tradition of success, and the Astros start the 2010 season as the top-ranked 14U team in the country in the Perfect Game USA preseason rankings.

Roberts keeps extremely busy with his own law firm, his coaching duties with East Cobb baseball and with his own family (a wife and two kids). He’s got an office in Atlanta and another, conveniently, at the East Cobb baseball complex in Marietta, Ga., where he handles legal matters for the East Cobb program in addition to coaching his team.
“A lot of times I go to work at East Cobb in shorts and a T-shirt and then step out on the baseball field,” he said.

That makes his life a little easier, especially with that hectic schedule.

“I just make the time,” he said. “I love it (coaching baseball). I enjoy it. It’s a passion of mine. We just make it work. It’s helpful that I work for myself. I’m able to set my own hours.”

The East Cobb Astros were the USSSA Elite National Champions in 2006, 2007 and 2009. They also won the BCS national title in 2006, captured WWBA and BCS crowns in 2007, and won the WWBA title again in 2008. The players at the 14U level change every year, but the success – and the coaching – do not. Roberts and Jeremy Luster are beginning their fifth year together on the coaching staff, and the Astros appear to have another strong club this season.

“This is a very, very, very talented team,” Roberts said of the 2010 Astros. “This team has an opportunity to be right up there with the best teams we’ve had at East Cobb.”
One of the top players is Jacob Heyward, and yes, baseball fans should recognize that last name. His older brother, Jason Heyward, is starring for the Atlanta Braves this season as a 20-year-old rookie and could be the 2010 National League Rookie of the Year.

“Jacob has a great work ethic, just like his brother does,” Roberts said. “He’s steadily improving and has a chance to be very good.”

The Astros also have a player whose name is Handsome Monica, from Louisiana. According to Roberts, Monica has a Spanish first name which translates to “Handsome” in English – and he’s a good-looking player.

The other players on this talented club are Hunter Anglin, Tony Flores, Randolph Gassaway, Ryan Gridley, Kell Johnson, Wesley Jones, Eric Knox, Nate Lomax, Terry McClure, Reed Scott, Max Thomas, Mitchell Webb and Skyler Weber. You can learn more about the team and the program at www.eastcobbbaseball.com.

Roberts was a tight end for legendary football coach Bobby Bowden at Florida State from 1986 to 1990. The Seminoles won four straight New Year’s Day bowl games , and Roberts set a school record for most catches by a tight end in a single game.

Roberts enjoyed playing for Bowden.

“He was a great man and obviously had a tremendous career,” Roberts said. “I certainly learned a lot from him about coaching.”

Baseball and football are different sports, but Roberts said he learned two valuable lessons from Bowden: How to treat people, and how to be true to your word.

Roberts, who is from Georgia, got his law degree from the University of Texas  in 1994. He moved back to Atlanta in 1997 and coached in a recreational baseball program. He began coaching a travel team within a year, and then started his own travel-team program in Atlanta in 2001.

He joined the East Cobb program in 2006, and this will be the 13th straight year that he’s been coaching a 14-and-under team. He enjoys that age group, because it’s when players graduate to a regular-size diamond and enter high school.

“I just really enjoy it,” he said. “It’s somewhat of a transition year.”

It’s a transition year for the players, but not for the East Cobb Astros program. They just keep winning. The regular season will heat up in June, but the Astros had a 9-0 record through early May and won a tournament in Atlanta.

14U Travel Team Rankings
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