Nebraska’s Gatorade Baseball Player of the Year. First Team Super-State. All-Nebraska. Gold medalist. Rawlings/Perfect Game First Team Preseason All-American. USA TODAY’s American Family Insurance All-USA Nebraska First-Team selection. These are just some of Millard West shortstop Cole Stobbe’s on-field accomplishments in his young career.
This success doesn’t happen overnight. Growing up, baseball was the only thing Stobbe knew. Yes, he did play hockey until middle school, but he quickly realized baseball was his life.
“It was pretty much the role (in my life),” Stobbe said. “That’s all I did growing up. I played baseball, travelled out of town for baseball. Baseball has just always been there for me, it’s always been something that I’ve loved to do and I’ve just stuck with it.”
From little leagues to high school, Stobbe continued to find success. During his sophomore year with Millard West he batted .317 with 36 runs and five home runs. After the season, he was named to the Second Team All-Nebraska, All-Metro Conference, and All-Class A teams by the Omaha World Herald.
This was followed by an incredible junior campaign where Stobbe batted .426 with 43 hits, 43 runs, 44 RBI’s, 23 walks, 11 stolen bases, 19 doubles, five triples and four home runs.
His successful junior season lead to a spot on the USA Baseball 18-U National Team. Stobbe missed the first quarter of school at Millard West while in Osaka, Japan while competing in the World Cup tournament.
“That experience was a little bit bigger than baseball,” Stobbe said. “It was very cool to represent the United States of America over in Osaka, Japan. I think the team as a whole, we grasped that concept. We went and competed every day and put on a good example of what the United States is all about.”
Team USA went on to defeat host country Japan 2-1 in the final, capturing a gold medal.
Stobbe’s senior season, there was a new coach at the reigns for Millard West. Former Elkhorn baseball coach Steve Frey took over following Frank Ryan’s retirement, and he was immediately impressed.
“He’s just very professional about how he does things,” Frey said. “Every rep he’s trying to accomplish something and you just don’t see that with a lot of high school players. He’s just kind of in a world of his own where everything he does he’s trying to get himself better.”
That work ethic helped Stobbe improve his numbers each season at Millard West. He hit .437 with 14 home runs, 43 RBI, 51 runs scored and a slugging percentage of .990 during his senior year.
His accolades off the field are equally as impressive as his on-field accomplishments. Despite playing almost year-round baseball, Stobbe maintained a 3.46 GPA at Millard West, while also volunteering at youth baseball programs, the Salvation Army, and the American Cancer Society.
“It’s not really that hard once you get a plan for what you need to do,” Stobbe said. “You just stick to that schedule that you create for yourself it’s not very hard to keep everything balanced and get everything done in a timely manner.”
Stobbe received the Gatorade Player of the Year award in both 2015 and 2016. The award recognizes “the nation’s most outstanding high school talents for their athletic achievement, academic excellence and exemplary character”, something Stobbe represents from top to bottom.
One of Stobbe’s goals was to win a state title for Millard West. His senior year, Millard West made it to the state finals against Creighton Prep. Although the Wildcats fell short, Stobbe hit a homerun in the first inning, as well as a two-run double and a single.
“I was just glad that I could put our team on the board,” Stobbe said. “We came back and scored a few more runs, it just wasn’t enough in the end. I think we had a great season...I think that season was by no means a failure. I think Millard West in the upcoming years is going to be a team to mess with.”
Now that the season is over, Stobbe has a few decisions to make. He is committed to play college baseball at Arkansas. Stobbe said the opportunity to play baseball in the SEC under a coach like Dave van Horn, with his ability to develop players, is a tough one to pass up.
However, Stobbe was selected with the first pick in the third round of the 2016 MLB Draft by the Philadelphia Phillies. The signing bonus for a third round draft pick last season ranged between $300,000 and $2 million. It’s a financial decision more in line with Wall Street than Q Street.
“If it’s a tough decision, I’ll just end up going to Arkansas,” Stobbe said. “It has to be pretty clear-cut and a pretty great opportunity for me to sign. If that opportunity presents itself I’m obviously going to jump at that opportunity, but if it’s a tough decision I’m probably just going to be attending Arkansas in the fall.”
Whether Stobbe attends Arkansas to play for van Horn, or decides to sign with the Phillies, Frey said Stobbe’s skill set is perfect for the next level.
“He has great instincts for the game of baseball,” Frey said. “Whether it’s baserunning, hitting, or where to position himself, and I think that will help him once he gets to that pro level and starts working with some of those players who are just as good as him. He’ll understand what he needs to be better and stay at that level.”
The only advice that Frey gave Stobbe for the next step in his career was to take the time to appreciate the position that he’s in.
“I told him to just enjoy it because you don’t know how long it’s going to last,” Frey said. “I tried to tell him that at some point it’s going to end so try and enjoy it while you’re still able to play the game.”
Stobbe has until July 15th to make a decision on whether or not to sign with the Phillies.
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