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 August are Dovid Budwick (Rabbi Alexander S. Gross Hebrew Academy), Jacob Gaynor (Nautilus Middle School), Parker Jelke (Cushman School), Nicholas Neglia (North Hialeah Elementary School) and Isabella Pavlou (Calusa Elementary School).
On Tuesday, Aug. 15, these standout student athletes participated in the Miami Herald Spotlight “Very Prado You” Batting Practice Experience and Meet & Greet, where they watched Marlins and Giants batting practice on the field and participated in an on-field, pre-game ceremony.
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During batting practice, Marlins outfielder Marcell Ozuna and second baseman Dee Gordon and MLB Hall of Famer Tony Perez signed autographs and posed for photos. Then, later, Marlins catcher Tomas Telis and Mascot extraordinaire Billy the Marlin 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 -- and a baseball signed by Telis.
ABOUT THE HONOREES
Dovid Budwick, 11, of Miami Beach is in sixth grade at Rabbi Alexander S. Gross Hebrew Academy in Miami Beach.
Dovid is a straight A student as well as a standout pitcher and shortstop in the North Miami Beach Little League. This year he is on the Rockies.
Dovid has been playing in the North Miami Beach Little League for the past 4 seasons and he always displays excellent sportsmanship, supporting his team mates in every game and is not overly concerned with his personal performance because he chooses to focus on his team’s effort. He encourages his teammates to the best they can be and supports them whether they are up or down.
Jacob Gaynor, 11, of Miami Beach is in sixth grade at Nautilus Middle School in Miami Beach.
He was MVP for the undefeated Miami Beach Bulls in the 11-14 age group of the Danny Berry Baseball League of Miami Beach Parks & Rec. An 11-year-old, he was the team’s lead-off hitter, second baseman, defensive captain and relief pitcher. He led the team in runs and RBI.
Off the field, he achieved Straight A’s each semester in fifth grade at North Beach Elementary School. A multi-sport athlete with a good attitude, he also enjoys and does well playing basketball.
Parker Jelke, 8, of Miami is in third grade at Cushman School in Miami.
Parker played for the Mudcats in the Coach Pitch 7-8 age group of the Danny Berry Baseball League of Miami Beach Parks & Rec. He played second base and hit .722. He led the team in hits and fielding percentage. He displayed sportsmanship as well as athletic and academic excellence.
At Cushman, he completed second grade with an E (excellent) in 11 subjects and an E- in two others. They score grades as E, E-, S+, S, S-, U. He was a member of the chess club, baseball club and golf club at school. His hobbies include swimming, golf, baseball card collecting, reading, and travel. He has been to 32 countries.
Nicholas Neglia, 10, of Davie via Miami Lakes is in fifth grade at North Hialeah Elementary School.
Nicholas plays baseball in the Cooper City Optimist program. He has been playing baseball since age 2. A solid player, he plays first base. He always demonstrates great sportsmanship to his opponents and his teammates. He is one of the leaders on his team. His primary focus is to get better and help others rather than winning.
In school, Nicholas is a role model and gifted student. Since kindergarten, he made the Honor Roll every quarter to date. He will be inducted into the school’s Honor Society in 2018. Nicholas treats his peers and teachers with respect. He gives 100-percent on the field and in the classroom. His has a love, a passion for baseball and academics.
Isabella Pavlou, 8, of Miami completed second grade at Kendale Elementary School and is now in third grade at Calusa Elementary School in Miami. She made the Principal’s Honor Roll since kindergarten, and she won the individual award for physical education the past two years.
She has a love and passion for softball. Enrolled in the Diamond Dreams Softball Academy, she tried out for the outstanding Miami Stingrays travel program. She excels at shortstop and the pitcher position. She maintains the same determination and dedication to her academics as she does softball. She is a great team player, leader and always demonstrates great sportsmanship with a positive attitude, win or lose.
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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