Cameron Araujo (Glades Middle School/Glades Baseball & Softball League), Alexander De La Cruz (David Lawrence K-8 School/Latin American Baseball League), Tom Maxwell (Henry S. West Laboratory School/South Miami Youth Baseball League), Santiago Ramirez (Aventura City of Excellence School/North Miami Beach Little League) and Danny Saydkhuzhin (Miami Country Day Middle School baseball) are the Miami Marlins Team Player Honorees for July in conjunction with the Miami Herald.
They were recognized for their academics in the classroom and sportsmanship on the field. Marlins starting pitcher Wei-Yin Chen and lovable mascot Billy the Marlin congratulated them during the ceremony, before the Marlins/St. Louis Cardinals game at Marlins Park.
In an effort to recognize deserving South Florida youth baseball and softball players for doing well in school and displaying sportsmanship on the diamond, the Miami Marlins have once again partnered with The Miami Herald to co-sponsor the Team Player spotlight on the Sunday Youth Sports pages in the Neighbors section of The Miami Herald in print and online.
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About the honorees
Cameron Araujo, 11, competes for the Glades Middle School softball team and Glades Baseball & Softball League.
Very well behaved and a good sport, she plays softball in the fall and basketball in the winter.
Glades Middle School Coach Walter Araujo said: “Cameron is an incredible athlete, but most importantly, she’s a really nice person. She works hard at school, and she brings that same work ethic to the athletic field. She’s an amazing basketball player, and I’m glad that she loves to play softball, too. She brings a good vibe and work ethic to her teams, and as a coach, I want as many student athletes like her as possible.”
Academically, Cameron is an excellent student. She is a 4.0 Honors student.
Carrie Funcia, South Dade YMCA basketball coach: “Cameron is an extremely talented young student athlete with an incredibly high basketball IQ. She is eager to learn and consistently produces results on the basketball court, both offensively and defensively.”
Alexander De La Cruz, 11, compete for the Latin American Baseball League at Grapeland Park. He completed fifth grade at David Lawrence Jr. K-8 Center.
Alex has been playing baseball since age 7. He played with the North Miami Little League and Hialeah Athletic Association, before joining the Latin American League.
Alex has a very mild form of autism. In fifth grade, Alex was placed in a general education class for the first time. He did so well academically and socially that he was phased out of special education. He maintained A’s and B’s in all subjects, except Reading where he has a C average.
Alex is popular and well liked by his teammates and friends. Most importantly, he works hard. He always has a positive attitude in school and on the baseball field. He has a true love for baseball. He regularly goes to Marlins games and even travels to see them. He went to San Francisco to watch them play the Giants.
Tom Maxwell, 10, competes for the South Miami Youth Baseball League. He is an avid baseball fan and player.
Tom was first coached in baseball in kindergarten at Henry S. West Laboratory School. When the baseball program ended at his school, he joined the South Miami Youth Baseball League. His favorite position is catcher, and he also pitches.
He expressed a desire to give back to the community by teaching baseball to kids who have not been exposed to it. He realized that baseball was no longer taught to the kids at his school. He didn't want the younger kids to miss learning the game, and falling in love with, the game of baseball, as he did in kindergarten. So he created a free baseball class: an after school program on Fridays at his school.
He applied and got approval from his principal, Ms. Barbara Pujadas, to offer the free class and taught those classes every Friday during last semester of the school year. He recruited two friends (Liam Forand and Hugh La Fontisse) to co-coach the practices. Together they taught 15 children (first and second graders) the rules and skills of baseball. He juggled teaching his own class and playing for the South Miami Youth Baseball League on the Tornados 10U first tier team. He attended practice twice a week and made all the games.
Academically, Tom made Honor Roll multiple times. He is a wonderful and patient big brother to his 8-year-old sister, Patty.
Santiago Ramirez, 10, competes for North Miami Beach Little League.
Santiago has been playing baseball since age 5, starting with the Aventura Little League. He has been an all-star multiple times (2013-16). He also plays travel baseball, competing for the NMBLL Landcrabs and the South Florida Knights.
Nicknamed ‘Manny Machado’ by his teammates, he displays sportsmanship on the field and excellent grades in the classroom. A standout student, he completed fourth grade at ACES (Aventura City of Excellence School).
North Miami Beach Little League Landcrabs Coach Pete Viola said: “Santi is not only a terrific ballplayer, but he is a terrific young boy who always gives 100 percent in the classroom and on the field. He is a great teammate and a pleasure to coach.”
Danny Saydkhuzhin, 14, competes for the Miami Country Day Middle School baseball team.
Born in Russia, Danny moved to South Florida when he was 5, attending Miami Country Day School. His grandfather introduced him to baseball, and Danny fell in love with the game.
A catcher, Danny played youth ball for Miami Shores, Grapeland Park and the Key Biscayne Key Rats. He works hard at his game, improving.
Danny started at catcher for Miami Country Day Middle School, playing every game behind the plate except one where he covered third base. He batted third, leading the team in hits and RBI.
As an eighth grader last season, he was called up to the high school varsity team, where in his first varsity game, he went 2 for 2. He was a Miami Country Day School Athlete of the Week.
Miami Country Day Coach Simpson: “Danny is a player with a lot of heat and desire for baseball.”
Danny is also a very good student, an Honors student, excelling in math, science and Spanish. He was the school’s 6th Grade Science Student of the Year.