MDC baseball sends eight to the MLB
After two successful seasons, each culminating in the draft of more than half a dozen players, MDC’s head baseball coach, Steve Hertz, says the team’s goals remains as they have always been: to maximize the potential of each player – on and off the field – and to win games.
“We don’t recruit players promising to send them to the major leagues,” he said recently. “We tell them that most guys won’t play professionally after college, but while they’re here, they’ll get to play for a good college program, earn scholarships that will help them cover their educational costs and, perhaps, transfer to a four-year institution.”
“On top of that,” Hertz added, “they get a well-rounded college experience.”
Jim Cox, MDC’s athletics director, agreed. “The excellent talent that we are able to attract to Miami Dade College is testament to our reputation as an outstanding institution that has a mission of developing the student academically, athletically and personally,” he said.
The big leagues
Modest as these goals might seem, Hertz and his team of coaches has sustained what can be described as the winningest two-year baseball program in the U.S.
In the summer of 2008, eight Shark players were drafted into major league systems. That success was repeated this summer, when seven players were picked, an exciting culmination to a season in which the Sharks clenched the Southern Conference title and ranked 5th nationwide.
“This says something about the coaching staff that’s out there recruiting these players,” Hertz said, speaking of his assistant coach Jim Mansilla, pitching coach Kevin Long and recruitment coordinator Frank Damas. “We’ve been very fortunate in that the last couple of years, we’ve recruited some innately talented young players.”
A continuing legacy
The Atlanta Braves selected shortstop Mycal Jones in the fourth round while outfielder Jabari Blash was picked in the ninth round by the Texas Rangers. Pitcher/catcher Eric Curtis made the Boston Red Sox in the 28th round.
The Milwaukee Brewers selected pitcher José Oviedo in the 31st round; left-handed pitcher Matthew Laney went to the Philadelphia Phillies in the 42nd round by the; second-baseman Adrián Morales was taken by the Houston Astros in the 45th round; and Reynaldo Cotilla was selected in the 48th round by the Milwaukee Brewers.
These players join a long tradition of MDC baseball that includes numerous state, regional and national titles. Miami Dade has made it to the post season 18 of the last 24 years, Hertz said.
Since the program’s inception in 1961, the year after the College was established, MDC baseball – formerly three separate teams – has been the training ground for a slew of MLB greats, including Buckey Dent, Mike Piazza, Raúl Ibañez, Mickey Rivers and Plácido Polanco, among others.
“Miami Dade College can certainly change your life and provide you opportunities that you never thought possible,” Cox, the athletics director, said. “Many students across the country and across the world want to come here to be a part of that and to be able to write their own success story.”
— Gariot P. Louima
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