Since his first year of high school, Rocky Roquet has attended six different schools – and has played baseball for all of them.
Although he spent most of his younger years as an outfielder, now, in his final year of college play, Roquet, 23, has settled in as the Cal Poly closing pitcher.
“My arm bounces back really quickly so I can fill multiple days in a row,” he said. “I like my role; the ninth inning is one of the most important innings.”
Roquet spent last year as a middle reliever, and while he is no stranger to the closing position, this season marks his first as Cal Poly’s full-fledged closer, a position where he feels the end-of-game pressures.
“It’s up to you to get your starter the win,” he said. “The last three outs of baseball games are usually the hardest because the other team is really trying to bear down and win.”
Perhaps Roquet, a 6-foot-2-inch right-hander, thrives under pressure. He has recorded eight saves in 10 attempts with a 2.6 ERA, a feat that gained him national recognition in Division I baseball.
Roquet was one of 30 to be named to the mid-season Stopper of the Year watch list, which is compiled by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association and encompasses 15 different conferences.
At the end of May, the list will be narrowed to five finalists and on June 7 the winner will be announced.
Roquet appreciates the recognition, but says it is not his motivator.
“I play baseball because it’s fun,” he said. “I’ve played since I was five, and it’s still fun for me to go out and practice.”
A Cayucos native, Roquet spent his freshman and sophomore years at Mission College Preparatory High School before relocating to Anaheim for his junior and senior years. He only began pitching in his final year of high school.
From Anaheim, where he played with fellow Stopper of the Year watch list nominee Vinnie Pestano of Cal State Fullerton, Roquet was recruited by Florida State as an outfielder, but during the second semester of his freshman year he switched to pitcher.
Still relatively new to the pitching scene, Roquet was expecting more focus on player development than he found at Florida, so he transferred to Santa Ana College and then to Northeast Texas Community College.
Roquet spent the two school years filling various pitching roles at Santa Ana and Texas, but during the summers played on the San Luis Obispo Blues. It was then that he caught the eye of the Cal Poly coaches, with whom he stayed in contact.
“The coaching staff here is probably the best coaching staff I’ve been on, from the pitching coach to the head coach,” Roquet said.
Having been a student athlete at the sports-driven Florida State, Roquet noticed major differences at Cal Poly.
In Florida, professors and students alike were far more interested in athletics, he said, while at Cal Poly he has a hard time making up class work for away games.
But he also recognized that at the more academic-oriented Cal Poly, top-name athletes are harder to recruit, and therefore more emphasis is placed on the player development that was lacking at Florida State.
Prepared to graduate in fall 2006 with a business degree, Roquet is far from finished with baseball.
He plans to play in the minor leagues after college and hopes to be one of the 8 percent that transitions into major league play.
“You have to be at the right place at the right time to go to the bigs,” he said. “If my capabilities and my effort level pan out well for me. I have all the ability to (play major league baseball) and hopefully my work ethic will continue.”
The Mustangs host a three-game series against Long Beach State this weekend, beginning at 6 p.m. Friday.