Robby Medel shows confidence in expanding role
Arizona junior pitcher Robby Medel (23) was the Wildcats' first reliever of the game. Arizona played Sam Houston in game five of the NCAA Lubbock Regional on June 4, 2017, at Dan Law Field.
Another opportunity is approaching for Arizona baseball senior Robby Medel, as he will see the mound once more as a Wildcat.
The right-handed pitcher from Arlington, Texas has had a journey through baseball with many ups and downs, but he continues to trust the process and knows it will lead him to future success. Medel was like many young boys who were thrown into sports. His thoughts focused on growing up to play basketball like his father, but entering junior high he realized that shooting the ball wasn’t for him.
“When I got to junior high I threw harder than everybody and I just stuck with baseball,” Medel said. “But I didn’t know I was going to be a baseball player till high school.”+
Medel attended Arlington Bowie High School where he played four years of varsity baseball and dominated on the mound earning first-team all-district honors in 2010, 2012 and 2013. Medel let his teams in strikeouts and wins during his senior year, which led him to college ball at Texas Christian University.
TCU seemed like it would be the best place for Medel, but ended up redshirting his freshman year leaving him unsure of his future.
“I was discouraged,” Medel said. “I was the best player on every team I’d ever played on in every sport until I got to TCU. You get there, there’s all these dudes, you think you’re going to be great and you’re not. It was because I didn’t put the work in and I didn’t know what it meant to work hard to be good yet, because I was just always good.”
The adjustment was hard for Medel and he realized that going to another program would be best for him.
“I think I was a little too sheltered being close to home. I needed to get away a little bit and figure myself out as a person,” Medel said. “I always wanted to come here [Arizona]. It was an easy choice and easy transition.”
While transitioning to Arizona, life threw Medel a curveball.
During high school, Medel would get ear infections anytime he would get a fever or the flu, but he didn’t notice them or do anything about them.
“Going into my first year here [Arizona], that summer my mom was thinking I was always ignoring her and I was like ‘no I’m not ignoring you,’” Medel said. “So I did some hearing tests ... figur[ed] out that I am hard of hearing and [that] it’s really bad.”
Medel eventually had to get hearing aids, but initially wasn’t a big fan. During his first year as a Wildcat, Medel struggled while on the mound and eventually realized that wearing the hearing aids would benefit him.
“After a couple of outings I struggled and messed up on defense and I said ‘I need to wear these things’ because I needed to feel like a full human being when I pitched,” Medel said. “It’s just a part of me. I play with them in and no one really says anything about them, it’s just me. It doesn’t impair me in any way and on the field; I am fine.”
Medel started on the hill during his first year at Arizona throwing 21 strikeouts in eight starts, but was eventually moved to the bullpen for the rest of the year. During his second season as Wildcat, Jay Johnson stepped into the position of head coach.
Under Johnson, Medel threw 17 innings for the ‘Cats during the 2016 season posting 14 strikeouts to five walks. Last season Medel made 15 appearances on the mound throwing 25 innings, but was in need for a change.
“Last year I think probably half way through the season [Medel] created a new preparation and competitive standard for himself, and by doing that he achieved some success and his role expanded,” Johnson said. “I think the evolution of taking his craft a little more serious in terms of conditioning and arm — I think he is highly motivated.”
A good teammate, Medel is more focused and exibiting more professionalism than ever before, keeping everyone loose and showing his personality on and off the field
“It was more of taking a step back and thinking about who I am as a person,” Medel said. “I did change in the sense of I am more professional in my preparation, I am more professional around the field. I’m going to have my fun, but it’s just the preparation part allows me to be more competitive on the mound.”
Now in his senior year, Medel is the most confident he has ever been. After many ups and downs throughout his collegiate career, Medel wouldn’t say it was a struggle, but rather trusting himself and the process to get him to this point.
Graduating in the spring of 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in communication, Medel hopes to continue baseball and anticipates new opportunities coming his way.
“I am the most confident I have ever been — and that’s a word that I like to use: confident,” Medel said. “Because every year I was ‘excited’ or ‘anxious’, but this year I am confident in the season and I’m ready.”
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