President: Jake Robbins
Jake Robbins is a former Major League Baseball pitcher with 6 organizations. Jake ended his career with the Chicago White Sox AAA affiliate Charlotte Knights. He appeared in major league games in 2004 for the Cleveland Indians at the age of 28. The only run he gave up was a solo home run by Jacque Jones on September 24th of that year. Since retiring before the 2008 season, Jake has continued in the game of baseball by helping young baseball players achieve their dreams of playing in college and “the show.”
Jake believes he is a better teacher of pitching than he was on the mound himself. Attributing his successes in teaching to God, he says, “God gave me the ability and opportunity to play this great game and now I want to use the knowledge that was given to me to help kids accomplish their dreams.”
Senior Hitting Instructor & Director of Player Development: Rafael Mendez
Rafael Mendez is a former catcher in Minor League Baseball who played his career in the Detroit Tigers organization.
Mendez was drafted in 2002 by the Detroit Tigers in the 17th round. Mendez played 7 years with the Tigers, earning a Gold Glove award in 2003 and 2004. He was invited to the “Big League Camp” in 2004 and 2005.
Rafael is a graduate of Notre Dame High School in Puerto Rico where he was Captain of his varsity baseball team for 4 years. He received the MVP award his Junior and Senior year.
VP Baseball Operations & Team Development: Tomas Cruz
Tomas Cruz is a native of Amarillo, Texas, where he graduated from Amarillo High School in 2006. From there, Tomas began his college career at Seward County Community College in Liberal, Kansas. During Tomas’ sophomore year, he anchored the Seward Saints’ pitching staff with an 11-3 record and a 2.22 ERA in 81 innings pitched. He struck out a record high 85 batters and walked only 11 in 14 appearances. Cruz tossed seven complete games and two shutouts while becoming the first Saints pitcher to win 11 games since 2004. While there, he was named the Jayhawk West Most Valuable Player, First Team All-Conference, First Team All-Region VI, and named to the National Junior College Athletic Association Division I Baseball 2nd Team All-American.
After Seward, Cruz continued his college career by signing his National Letter of Intent to pitch at Clemson University. At Clemson, Cruz served as a bullpen pitcher for the Tigers. During his two years at Clemson, Cruz helped lead the Tigers to two Super Regional Appearances and one College World Series appearance. In his final appearance as a Tiger, at the College World Series, Cruz pitched three scoreless innings in relief.
Following the CWS, Cruz went back to the west to pitch for the Liberal Bee-Jays. He posted a 2-0 record with four saves and a 0.56 ERA during the regular season as a closer. In the NBS World Series, he appeared in 5 out of 8 games, picking up two wins and a save. Cruz led the Bee-Jays to a NBS World Series win, with 3 ½ innings of work allowing no hits, no runs and 5 strikeouts.
Following the 2010 season, Cruz stayed at Clemson as a student assistant pitching coach and a student assistant strength and conditioning coach. In 2011, Cruz served as the Graduate Assistant for Wingate University. There he was the pitching coach, a recruiter, and the strength and conditioning coach.
Hitting Instructor: Zach Remillard
Zach Remillard played third base at Coastal Carolina University for four years before being drafted into the Chicago White Sox organization, where he is currently playing now. He was a part of the 2016 College World Series National Champion team with CCU.
As a junior, he was named to the Big South All Tournament team. During the summer of 2015 he represented the East Squad at the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League All Star game. He hit .341 as a senior, with 99 hits, 72 RBIs, and led the team in homeruns, with 19.
Hitting Instructor: Collin Thacker
Collin Thacker is an SBA alum (2011-2013) from Wilmington, NC. He graduated from Gardner Webb University in 2013 with a BS in Healthcare Management. He currently holds the record of the highest batting average in GWU Division 1 history with a .345 average. During his time at GWU, Thacker posted 218 hits, 122 RBIs, 16 homeruns, and a slugging percentage of .499. He also boasts 49 doubles during his time at GWU, 28 of those doubles occurring during the 2016 season, which led the NCAA Division 1.
In addition to the stats, Thacker was named to the Louisville Slugger Second Team All American in 2016, First Team All Big South 2016 and 2017, Preseason All American in 2017, and Big South Preseason Player of the Year. Prior to joining the staff at SBA, he played independent baseball with the Utica Unicors of the USPL. SBA is excited to have Collin join our team! You can book lesson with Collin on our website, under the Events tab.
Hitting Instructor: Ty Linton
Ty Linton is a Charlotte, NC, native who attended Charlotte Christian High School where he was a two-sport athlete committed to play both football and baseball at UNC-Chapel Hill. Linton had been in Chapel Hill, where he was practicing with the football team during summer workouts after his high school graduation when he was drafted in the 2010 MLB Draft and chose to forego his college education and signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks. He was signed in the 14th-round where he received a $1.25 million dollar signing bonus. After his time with the Diamondbacks, Linton chose to go back to school at North Carolina State University, where he was a member of the Wolfpacks’ football team as an outside linebacker. He now coaches a 13 year old team at SBA and teaches hitting lessons. You can book lessons with Ty online through the Events tab, under Lessons.
Operations Assistant & Communications Specialist: Haley Carpenter
Haley Carpenter is a Florida native who joined SBA full time in the fall of 2017 after spending the previous summer interning for SBA’s former collegiate team, the Bones. Haley is a former competitive softball and volleyball player who comes from a baseball family. Her younger brother plays at a junior college in Florida (St. John’s River) and is committed to Virginia Tech. Haley’s lifelong background in baseball has allowed her to contribute her electronic scorekeeping abilities for the Bones, given her a love for the game, and she is living out her dream working in baseball.
Haley’s duties at SBA have expanded as she has taken on more office responsibilities, including helping with communications, social media, weekly TWiB notes, and assisting all staff members as needed. She will continue studying for her degree in Public Relations through the University of Florida as she continues with SBA.
CEO: Will Simmons
An original Carolinian with a true entrepreneurial spirit, Will Simmons is passionate about business and baseball. He has founded and operated multiple businesses throughout his professional career. At 26 years old, Simmons was named Young Entrepreneur of the Year by the Small Business Association. In 2007, he was inducted into the Ernst and Young Hall of Fame as Entrepreneur of the Year. In that same year, his company was ranked #77 on the “Hot 500 America’s Fastest-Growing Businesses,” according to Entrepreneur Magazine. Simmons, along with his business partners, also currently owns and operates Zero Waste Recycling, LLC. in Charlotte.
Simmons, a graduate and former baseball player of Charlotte Christian School, played under the direction of Coach Greg Simmons. He was recruited by Coach Joe Hudak to catch for the Winthrop University baseball team in 1998. During his time with the Winthrop Eagles, the team won the coveted Big South Tournament Championship and was nationally ranked in the Top 20 during that run.
Simmons currently resides in Charlotte, NC, with his wife, Hannah, and two children, Hudson and Campbell. Simmons looks forward to building upon the SBA culture and brand while providing additional resources committed to long-term growth. He says, “I am extremely grateful to be a part of an outstanding organization that has a fine reputation of producing successful and talented young athletes. The family-like atmosphere at SBA is unique and truly special. Seeing our players achieve their personal best is the most rewarding and makes this great game of baseball worthwhile.”