To recognize deserving South Florida youth baseball and softball players for doing well in school and displaying sportsmanship on the diamond, the two-time champion Miami Marlins -- via Marlins third baseman Martin Prado -- have once again partnered with The Miami Herald for a special Team Player spotlight in the Neighbors sports section in print and online.
The honorees for July are Nathan Betz (Calvary Christian Academy), Noah Cantor (North Beach Elementary School), Ayron Diaz (West Hialeah Gardens Elementary School), Nicholas Pavlou (Herbert A. Ammons Middle School) and Kaitlyn Perdomo (Saint Louis Covenant School).
On Tuesday, July 18, these standout student athletes participated in the Miami Herald Spotlight “Very Prado You” Batting Practice Experience and Meet & Greet, where they watched Marlins batting practice on the field and met Prado in the dugout and during an on-field, pre-game ceremony.
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Mascot extraordinaire Billy the Marlin also participated in the ceremony.
Each honoree received an autographed certificate signed by Prado, a Very Prado You T-shirt, food and beverage, complimentary parking and game tickets -- all provided by Prado.
ABOUT THE HONOREES
Nathan Betz, 9, of Fort Lauderdale completed third grade at Calvary Christian Academy in Fort Lauderdale.
Nathan is a solid all-around student athlete, earning an ‘A’ average. He is well-liked by many kids inside and outside the classroom.
In February, Nathan won an ASCI speech competition for Christian schools in Broward County.
In baseball, he participates in that Margate Recreation League. In his first full year of kids pitch, he received game balls four times for his game performance and sportsmanship.
A versatile player, Nathan pitches and plays second base and centerfield.
Noah Cantor, 7, of Miami Beach completed first grade at North Beach Elementary School in Miami Beach.
Noah played coach pitch baseball in the spring season for the Miami Beach Scrappers in the City of Miami Beach Rookie League. He primarily played pitcher and outfield, helping the Scrappers finish first.
He consistently practiced with a positive attitude, cheering on his teammates and always ready to work hard.
Noah is also an excellent student. He made the Superior Honor Roll and also received a Student of the Month award.
The Scrappers came in 1st place in the league this season. Noah was a new member of the team and a true asset to the Scrappers
Ayron Diaz, 11, of Hialeah Gardens completed fifth grade at West Hialeah Gardens Elementary School in Hialeah.
He is an excellent baseball player, competing at Westland Gardens Park in Hialeah Gardens, and he is an outstanding student, earning straight A’s.
A centerfielder, he won four league championships playing with the Angels, Hurricanes and Bombers. Last season he led his team in RBI, home runs and triples.
In school, he made the Principal’s Honor Roll and received the Citizenship award. He finished elementary school with a 3.9 GPA.
His favorite team is the Miami Marlins, and his favorite player is Dee Gordon. His other favorite player is Jackie Robinson.
His hobbies are baseball, basketball and Pokémon cards.
Nicholas Pavlou, 11, of Miami completed sixth grade at Herbert A. Ammons Middle School in Miami.
He’s made the Principals Honor Roll since kindergarten. He also received the Presidential Award.
He is a team player on and off the field. He has a love and passion for baseball. He has been playing the game since he was 5-years-old. He maintains the same determination and dedication to his academics as to baseball.
He is a great team player, leader and always demonstrates sportsmanship with a positive attitude, win or lose.
Kaitlyn Perdomo, 14, of Palmetto Bay completed eighth grade at Saint Louis Covenant School in Pinecrest.
She is a four-year starter for the Saint Louis Covenant Middle School softball team. She helped the team go 10-0 this past season to finish first in the All Catholic Conference. For that team, she was the starting second baseman and lead them in runs.
Off the field, she was the school’s student body president. She earned the STL Service Award and won first prize in broadcast and journalism by the two-time Emmy Award winning Christopher Columbus News Network. She is also a member of the National Junior Honor Society.
She has played on numerous recreational and travel teams since she was in third grade. She will be a freshman in the fall at Our Lady of Lourdes Academy.
ABOUT MARTIN PRADO
Martín Manuel Prado, 33, was born in Maracay, Venezuela. He was one of four siblings raised in a single-parent family headed by their mother, Irma Prado.
He signed with the Atlanta Braves as a non-drafted free agent on Feb. 23, 2001. He played in the Braves’ Dominican program in 2001 and 2002 and came to the United States to join the Gulf Coast League in 2003.
Prado made his major league debut for the Braves on April 23, 2006. He played for the Braves through the 2012 season. He then played for the Arizona Diamondbacks and New York Yankees, before joining the Marlins in 2015. A 2010 MLB All-Star, he is signed with the Marlins through the 2019 season.
Prado competed in the 2017 World Baseball Classic.
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