Baseball season preview

T-Breds groomed to be the best

 

Hialeah, known for producing some of the best pitchers in the state, has another strong bullpen ready for a title run this season

KEY DATES

Monday Season began.

March 25-30 Sir Pizza Invitational.

April 15-17 GMAC tournament.

April 22-26 Districts.

May 1-2 Regional quarterfinals.

May 7Regional semifinals.

May 10 Regional finals.

May 15-18 and 20-23State finals at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers.

STATE CHAMPIONS

Class 8A: Port Orange Spruce Creek; 7A: Venice; 6A: Southwest Ranches Archbishop McCarthy; 5A: Plantation American Heritage; 4A: Pensacola Catholic; 3A: Jacksonville Providence; 2A: Deltona Trinity Christian; 1A: Lake Butler Union County.

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS

P: Anthony Carra, Ferguson, Sr.; Nestor Cortes, Hialeah, Sr.; Bryan Garcia, Columbus, Sr.; Andrew George, Florida Christian, Sr.; Alexis Herrera, Hialeah, Jr.; Danny Garcia, Westwood Christian, Sr.; Mike Mediavilla, Mater Academy, Jr.; Chris Mourelle, Southwest, Sr.; Chris Pelaez, Florida Christian, Sr.; Alex Perez, Pace, Sr.; Adam Roush, South Dade, Sr.; 1B: William Fabra, Belen, Sr.; Kendrick Gutierrez, Sr.; David Palenzuela, Pace, Sr.; 2B: Chiqui Carrera, St. Brendan, Sr.; Riley Delgado, Palmetto, Sr.; SS: Brian Bermudez, Pace, Sr.; John Ruiz, Westminster Christian, Sr.; Mike Perez, Killian, Sr.; Michael Paez, Sunset, Sr.; 3B: J.C. Escarra, Mater Academy, Sr.; Anthony Penas, Westwood Christian, Sr.; Alex Pinero, Coral Gables, Sr.; Laz Rivera, Columbus, Sr.; C: Kevin Abraham, Mater Academy, Sr.; Nick Mira, Killian, Sr.; Manny Pazos, Pace, Sr.; Chris Perez, Columbus, Sr.; Elier Rodriguez, La Salle, Sr.; Dakota Robbins, Jr.; DH: Alffredi Ramos, Mater Lakes, Sr.; OF: Willie Abreu, Mater Academy, Sr.; Ryan Alvarez, Columbus, Jr.; Chris Bec, Ferguson, Jr.; Carlos Tapia, Ferguson, Sr.; Christian Khawam, Southridge, Sr.; Henry Hernandez, Gulliver, Sr.; David Lara, Hialeah Gardens, Sr.; Spencer Levine, Killian, Jr.

TEAM OUTLOOKS

CLASS 8A

1. HIALEAH (Coach Jonathan Hernandez, 1st year). Last year: 24-6 (Regional finalist). Top players: LHP Nestor Cortes, Sr.; RHP Alexis Herrera, Jr.; SS Alain Silva, Sr.; RHP Michael Rodriguez, So.

2. COLUMBUS (Coach Joe Weber, 18th year, 391-112). Last year: 27-4 (State runner-up). Top players: RHP Bryan Garcia, Sr.; C Chris Perez, Sr.; 3B Laz Rivera, Sr.; 2B Eddie Rodriguez, Sr.

3. SOUTH DADE (Coach Fred Burnside, 5th year at SD, 21st overall). Last year: 16-7. Top players: P-OF Adam Roush, Sr.; C Shane Castro, Sr.; CF Jadan Garcia, Sr.; INF Ricky Garcia, Sr.

4. KILLIAN (Coach Angel Herrera, 7th year at KIL, 13th overall, 173-79-3). Last year: 22-9 (Regional semifinalist). Top players: C Nick Mira, Sr.; RHP-SS Mike Perez, Sr.; OF Spencer Levine, Jr.; OF Gil Polanco, Sr.

5. FERGUSON (Coach Jose Novas, 6th year at FER, 24th overall, 330-290-2). Last year: 14-10. Top players: OF-INF-P Chris Bec, Jr.; OF Carlos Tapia, Sr.; LHP Anthony Carra, Sr.; 3B-P Chris Medina, Sr.

6. GOLEMAN (Coach Jose Lopez, 1st year at GOL, 6th overall, 37-47). Last year: 15-10-1 (Regional semifinalist). Top players: LF Rolando Martinez, Sr.; CF Cory Garrastazu, Sr.; P Sean Carrasco, Jr.; P Chris Abad, Sr.

7. SOUTHRIDGE (Coach Ed Doskow, 11th year at SR, 13th overall, 195-101). Last year: 14-11 (Regional quarterfinalist). Top players: OF Christian Khawam, Sr.; OF Arlain Seslin, So.; INF Alex Aguila, Sr.; RHP Osvaldo Garcia, Sr.

8. AMERICAN (Coach Ricky Gutierrez, 5th year). Last year: 10-14. Top players: 1B Kendrick Gutierrez, Sr.; 3B Romy Gonzalez, So.; CF-P Ronald Williams, Jr.; OF Kevin Peraza, Sr.

9. SOUTHWEST (Coach Josy Torres, 9th year at SW, 11th overall, 138-104). Last year: 15-11 (Regional quarterfinalist). Top players: P-DH Chris Mourelle, Sr.; SS Luis Aviles, Sr.; 2B-P Alex Perera, Sr.; LF Luis Gutierrez, Sr.

10. HIALEAH GARDENS (Coach Tino Burgos, 5th year at HG, 7th overall). Last year: 11-12 (Regional quarterfinalist). Top players: RF David Lara, Sr.; C Gary Garcia, Jr.; LHP Chris Suarez, Jr.; 1B Alejandro Piedra, Jr.

11. PALMETTO (Coach Danny Smith, 2nd year, 12-9). Last year: 12-9. Top players: INF-P Riley Delgado, Sr.; INF-P Mike Wall, Sr.; OF-P Nick Gruener, Sr.

12. SOUTH MIAMI (Coach Denis Pujals, 1st year at SM, 3rd overall, 19-19). Last year: N/A. Top players: P Daniel Garmendia, Sr.; C Paul Proenza, Sr.; CF Armani Medina, Sr.; OF Christian Crespo, Sr.

13. CORAL GABLES (Coach Phil Wisser, 6th year at CG, 9th overall, 127-78). Last year: 16-10 (Regional semifinalist). Top players: 3B Alex Pinero, Sr.; RHP JeanCarlo Rodriguez, Jr.; SS Robert Montes, So.; C Elih Marrero, So.

14. SUNSET (Coach Mandy Pelaez, 14th year at SUN, 16th overall). Last year: 12-11. Top players: SS Michael Paez, Sr.; 2B Michael Centeno, Sr.; C Alex Bravo, Sr.; 1B Nicholas Machado, Sr.

15. MIAMI SPRINGS (Coach Willie Vazquez, 2nd year at MS, 9th overall, 48-36). Last year: 9-13. Top players: P Nick Bello, Sr.; P Nayit Napoles, Sr.; CF-INF Pedro Riveria, Jr.; SS Domingo Cedano, Jr.

16. BRADDOCK (Coach Victor Montalvo, 1st year). Last year: 13-11. Top players: C-RF Brian Hernandez, Sr.; CF Eddie Araujo, Sr.; 2B Gaby Mundo, Sr.; RHP Anthony Baldrich, Sr.

17. CORAL REEF (Coach Dave Bisceglia, 12th year at CR, 21st overall, 281-247). Last year: 12-12. Top players: CF Thomas Gordon, Sr.; P-OF Carlos Serio, Sr.; P Christian Grullon, Jr.; 3B Fabio Biondolillo, Sr.

18. NORTH MIAMI BEACH (Coach Alex Rodriguez, 1st year). Last year: 9-12. Top players: CF Leroy Parker, Sr.; SS-P Alejandro Suarez, Sr.; C Adryan Pedraza, Sr.

19. REAGAN (Coach J.C. Huguet, 1st year at RR, 4th overall). Last year: 9-12. Top players: OF-1B Paul Menendez, Sr.; C-INF Luis Rincon, Sr.; P Arturo Rincon, Sr.; OF Joe Diaz, Jr.

20. CORAL PARK (Coach Eduardo Diaz, 1st year). Last year: N/A. Top players: CF Alex Alvarez, Sr.; C Adrian Cuesta, Sr.; C Victor Marin, Sr.; P Mathew Perez, Jr.

21. VARELA (Coach Jon Barbato, 7th year). Last year: 10-12. Top players: RHP Juan Pimentel, Sr.; OF Frankie Rodriguez, Sr.; SS Juandy Mendoza, Sr.; INF-OF Jeremy Jones, Sr.

22. KROP (Coach Jason Sullivan, 2nd year, 6-15). Last year: 6-15. Top players: C Moises Flores, Sr.; SS-P Jake Norman, Jr.; CF Ian Santana, Jr.; P-3B Carlos Murillo, Sr.

23. MIAMI BEACH (Coach Willy Baez, 1st year). Last year: 2-14. Top players: CX Leoni Lamanna, Jr.; SS Trent Bryan, So.; P-INF Cristian Almonte, Jr.; P-3B Themi Pinieda, So.

24. MIAMI HIGH (Coach Frank Suarez). Last year: 3-19. Top players: P Danny Rodriguez, Sr.

CLASS 6A

1. MATER ACADEMY (Coach Eddie Gorriz, 10th year, 133-72). Last year: 20-6. Top players: OF Willie Abreu, Sr.; 3B J.C. Escarra, Sr.; C Kevin Abraham, Sr.; P-1B Mike Mediavilla, Jr.

2. BELEN JESUIT (Coach Jerry Albert, 2nd year at BEL, 13th overall, 193-162). Last year: 20-9 (Regional semifinalist). Top players: P-1B William Fabra, Sr.; OF Alex Lorenzo, Sr.; P David Villa, Jr.; P Danny Parets, Sr.

3. HIALEAH-MIAMI LAKES (Coach Mario Morffy, 2nd year at HML, 8th overall, 15-10). Last year: 14-10 (Regional quarterfinalist). Top players: OF-P Brandon Morffy, Jr.; P-1B Mateo Cuecha, Sr.; OF-P Fernando Molina, Sr.; SS Osmani Oliva, Sr.

4. WESTLAND HIALEAH (Coach Jose P. Alvarez, 5th year at WH, 7th overall, 53-44). Last year: 12-9. Top players: C-3B Luis Corrales, Sr.; SS-P Christian Munoz, Sr.; P Carlos Ledesma, Sr.; 2B Frank Morejon, Jr.

5. MOURNING (Coach Ed Bonilla, 2nd year, 14-9). Last year: 14-9. Top players: 3B Alex Vallejo, Jr.; C Steven Cepeda, Sr.; P Chris Contreras, Sr.; 2B-P Jose Reyes, Jr.

CLASS 4A

1. MONSIGNOR PACE (Coach Tom Duffin, 15th year, 283-96). Last year: 22-7 (State semifinalist). Top players: 1B David Palenzuela, Sr.; RHP Alex Perez, Sr.; INF-C Manny Pazos, Sr.; SS Brian Bermudez, Sr.

2. ST. BRENDAN (Coach Joe Cubas, 3rd year). Last year: 22-7 (Regional semifinalist). Top players: SS Miguel Ceballos, Sr.; 2B Jose “Chiqui” Carrera, Sr.; 1B-DH Henry Knez, Sr.; LHP David Plotkin, Sr.

3. GULLIVER (Coach Javy Rodriguez, 5th year at GUL, 6th overall, 32-29). Last year: 20-9 (Regional finalist). Top players: SS Joe Dunand, Jr.; CF Henry Hernandez, Sr.; RHP Gaby Quevedo, Sr.; RHP Lucas de la Cruz, Sr.

4. LA SALLE (Coach Oscar Benitez, 15th year, 1897-191-2). Last year: 12-15 (Regional quarterfinalist). Top players: C Elier Rodriguez, Sr.; SS-P Nick Canino, Jr.; CF Yordan Piedra, Sr.; P-1B Mike Matheis, Sr.

5. JACKSON (Coach Julio Mendoza, 1st year). Last year: 9-13. Top players: OF-P Jomilson Alvarez, Sr.; RHP Julio Martinez, Jr.; CF Chris Espinosa, Sr.; RHP Juan Nunez, Sr.

6. TERRA (Coach Hernan Adames, 2nd year, 5-16). Last year: 5-16. Top players: C Rueben Pino, Jr.; P-1B Tyler Prichard, So.; P Andres Perez, Fr.; P-OF Alexis Valladares, So.

CLASS 3A

1. FLORIDA CHRISTIAN (Coach Chris Brigman, 1st year). Last year: 19-10 (Regional finalist). Top players: P Chris Pelaez, Sr.; P Andrew George, Sr.; INF Milton Ramos, Jr.; C Zach San Roman, Sr.

2. WESTMINSTER CHRISTIAN (Coach Emil Castellanos, 7th year, 126-44-3). Last year: 20-6 (Regional quarterfinalist). Top players: SS John Ruiz, Sr.; C Dakota Robbins, Jr.; CF Luis Touron, Sr.; P-OF John Gonzalez, So.

3. MATER LAKES (Coach Cesar Temes, 3rd year, 33-24). Last year: 20-9 (Regional semifinalist). Top players: C-DH Alffredi Ramos, Sr.; C-DH Vicente Amor, Sr.; SS Anthony Rondon, Sr.; 1B Alessandro Lima, Sr.

4. PALMER TRINITY (Coach Donnie Harvey, 12th year at PT, 15th overall). Last year: 11-11. Top players: OF-P Ben Roberts, Sr.; C-OF Justin Ziegelasch, Sr.; 3B-2B Ignacio Pigna, Sr.; OF-1B Keith Macaulay, Sr.

5. ARCHBISHOP CURLEY (Coach Jerry Yeash, 33rd year). Last year: 7-15-1. Top players: C-P Nick Salow, Sr.; INF-P Tony Yeash, Sr.; OF-P Ezequiel Araujo, Sr.; INF-P Jethro Galeano, Sr.

6. DADE CHRISTIAN (Coach Reggie Rodriguez, 1st year). Last year: 6-19 (Regional quarterfinalist). Top players: P Anthony Munoz, Jr.; 1B Robert Delavega, Jr.; P Nick Haber, Jr.; C Anthony Martel, Jr.

7. MIAMI COUNTRY DAY (Coach Paul Barrios, 2nd year, 11-11). Last year: 11-11 (Regional quarterfinalist). Top players: INF-P Michael Fente, Jr.; INF-P Carter Weiss, Jr.; OF-P Thomas Rodrigues, Sr.; OF-P Adam Seif, Jr.

CLASS 2A

1. WESTWOOD CHRISTIAN (Coach Luis Padron, 5th year, 64-34). Last year: 19-6 (State runner-up). Top players: LHP Danny Garcia, Sr.; 3B Anthony Penas, Sr.; 2B Jose Suarez, Sr.; SS Luis Diaz, Sr.

2. MIAMI CHRISTIAN (Coach Chris Cuadra, 1st year). Last year: N/A. Top players: C Lazaro Gonzalez, So.; 1B-DH David Lopez, Jr.; CF Johans Porras, Jr.; SS Dominic Diaz, Sr.

3. BRITO (Coach Pedro Guerra). Last year: 11-12.

4. CHAMPAGNAT (Coach Enrique Avila, 1st year). Last year: 5-17. Top players: SS Christian Sanchez, Sr.; RHP Abraham Figueira, Sr.

INDEPENDENT

NORTH MIAMI (Coach Ken Litman, 27th overall, 323-293). Last year: 7-9. Top players: P-CF Victor Sam, So.; 2B-P Jeremy Deleon, Sr.; SS Alex Peralta, Sr.; C Carlos Serrano, Sr.


a1fernandez@MiamiHerald.com

Great pitching has been at the heart of Hialeah’s most successful teams.

Gio Gonzalez, Charlie Hough and Camilo Vazquez are just a few names that resonate when talking about a program that has won three state titles and made eight trips to the final four.

Hialeah has four talented hurlers this season, led by senior lefty Nestor Cortes and junior Alexis Herrera, who could propel it back to state for the second time in three years.

But most notably, senior lefty Nestor Cortes could be the next to join the T-Breds’ pitching pantheon.

“If Nestor can put together another season like last year or even better, he has to be considered among the top three pitchers we’ve ever had at Hialeah,” said Hialeah coach Jonathan Hernandez, a member of the 2001 and 2002 state title teams. “He knows the importance of throwing strikes as a pitcher. He’s tough and he exemplifies Hialeah baseball.”

Cortes, an FIU commitment, went 8-0 with a 1.31 ERA in 64 1/3 innings last season guiding the T-Breds to the regional finals before a 1-0 loss to Columbus. Cortes threw 114 pitches and struck out nine before a ninth-inning error doomed Hialeah.

“We were so close last season, and I think everyone has reminded each other how they felt when they walked off that field,” Cortes said. “I kept telling Coach, I’m not coming out of this game. We wanted it bad.”

Great tradition

Cortes grew up in Hialeah and familiar with the school’s tradition.

The T-Breds have advanced to at least the regional final round eight times since the 2001 season.

“It’s a special kid that comes to play here because they learn early that everything they get is earned,” Hernandez said. “They see the alumni come back and be a part of this and they realize they are part of something special and that it’s up to them to keep it going.”

As a senior, Cortes now keeps some of the team’s customs going. Recently, he and his fellow T-Breds grew Mohawks and dyed them blonde — a tradition the team has kept going for nearly a decade.

“It’s something we’ve done for a while to start the year and keep up until we lose a couple of games in the season,” Cortes said. “Those guys that won state back in the day did it, and we want to bring one back with this team.”

Showing command

Cortes showed great command and an ability to consistently locate pitches last season. But in the offseason, he worked on becoming a stronger pitcher while playing with the Florida Legends summer league team. Hernandez said Cortes has brought his speed up to about 92 mph.

Herrera, who went 10-0 with a 1.82 ERA last season, also can hit the mid-80s and has solid stuff, according to Hernandez. Along with lefty senior Adan Gutierrez (4-1, 2.10 ERA last year), they should give Hialeah more pitching depth than it has had in recent years. Sophomore right-hander Michael Rodriguez also has showed promise and will be the team’s closer.

Hialeah’s lineup lost some power after graduating outfielder Cody Fulton, but Hernandez said the team will not be short of timely hitting and fundamental skills.

Shortstop Alain Silva and senior infielder Henry Perez, who is trying to bounce back from a subpar season that followed an All-Dade sophomore season, are among the leaders. Catchers Robert Carmona and Jonathan Diaz, outfielder Gilbert Maldonado and third baseman Arnaldo Brito should be contributors.

The T-Breds will test themselves early in the season starting right where they left off Tuesday night at defending Class 8A state runner-up Columbus.

Hialeah also will take on South Dade, Killian and Southwest in the next couple of weeks and later will play in the Hofball tournament during spring break.

Columbus is among Dade’s top contenders, returning six key infield starters led by third baseman Laz Rivera (Miami signee), as well as its entire outfield led by fellow UM signee Ryan Alvarez.

Pitching will be the key for the Explorers, who will rely on senior Bryan Garcia (UM signee). Catcher Chris Perez (Duke) will lend his experience working with Columbus’ younger pitchers.

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