The Barry University baseball team figures to benefit from two former Miami-Dade high school standouts who signed with Division I teams and have returned home to play Division II ball.
They are senior shortstop Alex DeGoti, who slugged 13 homers in three years at Belen before signing with Long Beach State, and junior right-hander Lance Elder, who won 15 games in two years at South Dade before joining Marshall.
Perhaps Barry baseball coach Marc Pavao is taking a page from the Bucs’ men’s basketball team.
In basketball, Barry has had a major success story with a Miami-Dade kid (Yunio Barrueta) signing with a Division I school (East Tennessee State) and then coming home to the Bucs.
Pavao hopes he’s found similar gems, and he seems particularly impressed with DeGoti, who is being used in the middle of the batting order.
“He’s the type of guy who will hit a lot of doubles and drive in a lot of runs,” Pavao said. “He’s one of our better hitters.
“Defensively, he’s one of the best shortstops I’ve seen at this level — very gifted.”
But despite his talent, DeGoti said he never got much of a chance to play shortstop. He made 20 starts last season, but 14 of them were at third base, and he was also used extensively at second.
DeGoti failed to produce much — he hit just .188 with one homer, a .246 on-base percentage and .246 slugging.
Similarly, Elder wasn’t very successful at Marshall, making just four appearances, including one start. He posted a 7.36 ERA, allowing 15 hits in 11 innings.
But Elder said it was the way the Marshall coaching staff treated his arm that caused him to transfer, especially considering that he had elbow surgery in 2013.
“We were playing at Mississippi State in late February (2015), and it was cold,” Elder said. “They sent me down to the bullpen, and I start stretching.”
Elder said he had thrown only three soft tosses when the coaches put him in the game, which caused him to aggravate his elbow injury.
Given that he is still recovering, Elder will begin this season in the bullpen until he builds up enough arm strength to start. But when he’s right, Pavao said, Elder has a 89-92-mph fastball “with a ton of movement” as well as a plus changeup and a good slider.
“He’s a Division I player,” Pavao said.
Aside from all of the above, another common bond that unites DeGoti and Elder is that both are serious about their studies.
DeGoti (3.1 GPA) plans to go to law school after he’s done playing and has designs on a career as an agent. Elder (3.3 GPA) has already earned his Bachelor’s degree and is studying to earn his Master’s in sports management.
So far, so good for the Bucs (2-1), who are ranked 19th nationally by D2baseballnews.com. Barry beat Catawba, which was ranked second at the time, and No. 25 Tusculum by a combined score of 25-8.
DeGoti is hitting .364 with four RBI and no errors. Elder has a 0.00 ERA in 1 2/3 innings.
2016 BASEBALL CAPSULES
Coach: Jonathan Hernandez; Last year: 0-0; Top players: CF Jorge Lopez (sr.); RF/1B Angel Ortiz (so.); 1B/C Austin Voeller (so.); Noteworthy: This is the first year for the Silver Storm program, which is based in North Miami Beach. They compete as a junior college and use Alex Fernandez Field in Hialeah.
Coach: Marc Pavao; Last year: 21-28 (no playoffs); Top players: OF Ryan Baldwin (so.); RHP/OF Jonathan Quintana (so.); C Ramon Valdez (sr.); Noteworthy: The Bucs have had 13 players drafted since 2009, including three last year. Baldwin was the Freshman of the Year in the conference.
Coach: Ben Bizier; Last year: 31-24, Southern Conference co-champions; Top players: CF J.C. Millan (so.); LHP Ian Exposito (so.); RHP Orlando Rodriguez (so.); Noteworthy: Freshman 3B/C Gabriel Garcia, a native of Puerto Rico, was drafted in the 29th round by the Orioles last year.
FLORIDA MEMORIAL UNIVERSITY
Coach: Luis Zarzabal; Last year: 7-39; Top players: OF Lancen Mansfield (jr.); OF/P Gianfranco Garlobo (so.); INF/OF Daniel Morales (sr.); Noteworthy: The Lions went 0-22 on the road last season, 2-21 in conference and had a 20-game losing streak. This year’s team is picked to finish last in its nine-team league.
MIAMI DADE COLLEGE
Coach: Danny Price; Last year: 25-22 (no playoffs); Top players: 2B Kevin Santiago (fr.); 1B Santiago Espinal (fr.); C/LF Chris Bec (so.); Noteworthy: Santiago, a switch-hitter from Puerto Rico, was the Reds’ 39th-round pick last year.
NOVA SOUTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY
Coach: Greg Brown; Last year: 39-13; Top players: 3B Danny Zardon (jr.); C Michael Hernandez (jr.); RHP Alex Mateo (sr.); Noteworthy: The Sharks were an impressive 29-4 at home last season. NSU reached the NCAA Division II South Region playoffs as the No. 2 seed, highest in program history.
ST. THOMAS UNIVERSITY
Coach: Jorge Perez; Last year: 48-18; Top players: RHP Ben Ancheff (sr.); INF Michael Centeno (jr.); RHP Chris Rodriguez (so. closer); Noteworthy: Team is ranked second in the preseason NAIA poll and are coming of a runner-up finish in last year’s World Series. Six STU players were drafted in the past four years.