|9U TEAM Miami – A Team Fifteen Years in the Making|
- By Ernie Rapiere
As the 2010 season moves into full swing, TEAM Miami has proven that they are clearly one of the best in the country. When they will take the field this weekend, they will do so, being ranked by TravelBallSelect.com as #2 in the nation. They have earned this ranking while playing in what may be the toughest baseball precinct in the country. On any given weekend, they may regularly face the likes of such good teams as; Mo Steel, Bullets/Titans, Palm Beach Piranaz, and the Weston Hawks – all top 25 (or Honorable Mention) caliber teams.
When you look at TEAM Miami, it can easily escape your view that this group of young 9 year olds is really the product of 15 years of hard work. TEAM Miami was started by Manny Ojeda who has poured his heart into Miami youth baseball for over 15 years. The result of his efforts is that over 200 kids have gone on to higher levels of play. All because coach Manny saw a community need and found ways to create opportunities for kids to play baseball. He started by coaching REC league ball, and then assembled teams to compete in such leagues as CABA and PONY. Finally, he was one of the first to see that the country was shifting to elite travel baseball and he moved quickly to position his teams for that level of play.
Today, Coach Manny spends much of his time working at his training facility in Miami. He is assisted by a talented group of professional coaches who know the game - having played at many levels. Coach Jaunqin Neto has coached with the TEAM Miami club for twelve years and is currently the “Skipper” for this talented 9U TEAM Miami group. Jorge Carrion (1B-OF coach) came to Florida from New York where he played college baseball and was drafted by Texas Rangers. Francisco Centeno, (Hitting Coach) trains his kids by throwing either lefty or righty. Frank Padron (Pitching Coach) has been with the group for the past 2 years. He played college baseball and also was a pitcher in the Philly’s organization.
Thus far, TEAM Miami has built a record of 64-5-1 including a 29-3 record when playing 10U Majors Class teams. Along the way to building this record, they have won 5 of 7 major tournaments including the Thanksgiving Super NIT that gives them an early seat at Disney's Elite 32. There is no way a team can win like this group of 9 year olds of TEAM Miami without having a full line-up of outstanding players. Following is a quick look at the line-up, starting from A to Z.
Jordan Carrion (2B/P), #2 batter. Jordan is described by his coaches as being the best 2B they’ve seen long time. He has the speed and the great glove that this position requires. He is also a great bunter, and an excellent line drive hitter.
Kenneth Centeno (OF/P/1B), #5 batter. Kenneth is a lefty pitcher who is a solid part of TEAM Miami’s rotation. He is very fast, and is a great hitter who hits with both power and average. He hit 7 homeruns as an 8 year old.
Jorge Corona (C/P), #6 batter. Jorge is a big kid that has both size and speed. He is the “big game” catcher. He is also a power hitter who is described by his coaches as being “a natural” when it comes to the game of baseball.
Luis Diaz (OF/2B) is described as the “Spark Plug” of the team. He is the “Big Game” pitcher. Luis hits deep in line-up (8 or 9th), but don’t let that fool you. He is a very good hitter.
Jason Gonzalez (C/P/3B), #4 batter. In the “Championship” game, Jason is most likely the pitcher. He is described as the “Horse of Horses”. He is a game changer who can put his team on his back and carry them to victory in key situations. If the team needs a big hit, he hits it. If they need great pitching - he delivers.
Christian Lopez (1B/OF/P) is a big “Lefty” who is one of TEAM Miami’s ACE pitchers. He mixes speed with a very nasty change-up. His skills is one of the big reason that TEAM Miami is ranked #2.
Kevin Martin (3B/1B/P) is a big and tall (5'6") athlete who hits with great power. His coaches say that he has all the skills to be a great pitch. He will become one of top pitchers that TEAM Miami turns to in key game situations.
Lewis Menendez (SS/OF), #1 batter. Lewis can fly like the wind. He is faster than fast and gets on base 90% of the time. He also hits with power.
Yohandy Morales (3B), #3 batter. This young athlete has just turned 8 years old. Yet, he is a phenomenal player. He is the starting 3rd baseman and has already hitting 200' home runs. He also has the genes as his dad was a big league player.
Zachary Neto (SS/P) is the starting shortstop. In addition to being a solid SS with a great glove and arm. He can also come in and relief pitch when needed. When he does, he can throw “Gas”. He also hits with power and average. He can hit to opposite field and he is a very good bunter.
Mathew Ojeda (LF/3B/P) has the fundamentals and knows the game. He is called “The Coach” because of his leadership and knowledge of the game. He is also one of their pitchers. You’ll most likely see him on the mound in pool play competitions.
Michael Padron (1B/P) is a perfectionist as a lefty pitcher. He is often their starting 1st baseman as he is a great scooper. He is a switch hitter who has the knack for hitting line drives when others are on base.
Michael Rassi (CF/P) is most often seen in centerfield because he reacts to a ball really well and can use his speed and hand/eye coordination to chase down and make the difficult catches. He also hits with a lot of power and is one of top 6 pitchers.
This talent loaded team from the heart of Miami has already qualified with berths to play in the Elite World Series tournaments. So, look for them to challenge and show why they are ranked among the “Best of the Best” once regular season play moves into the late summer season where “Champions” rise to the top.
|Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 February 2011 15:17|