When Victor Victor Mederos was 14 years old, he slugged a home run at a Miami Marlins showcase event.
The home run was measured at 414 feet — the longest shot of the showcase and a magnificent blast for a 14-year-old.
Mederos, now a 17-year-old junior at Monsignor Pace and a Miami Hurricanes recruit, is a major-league prospect as a right-handed pitcher, but he can hit, too.
And whether Mederos hits a home run or strikes out a batter, he isn’t shy.
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“I love talking stuff, especially when I know the other player,” Mederos said. “I just say, ‘Dude, you are going to have to beat me on the field because talking you are never going to beat me.”
Pace coach Tom Duffin, who admits he is old fashioned, has tried to reign in a bit of Mederos’ exuberance.
“He reminds me of Jose Fernandez — not afraid to show his emotions, and he backs it up,” Duffin said. “That’s [Mederos]. He’s a competitor. You love to have him on your team, and you hate to play against him.“
Besides Mederos’ outgoing nature, here are nine more things you might not have known about this budding star:
2: If you say “Victor” in the Mederos home in Cutler Bay, you would be addressing 75 percent of the household.
Other than the mom of the family, Odalys, everyone else is named Victor, including her husband Victor and their two children, 27-year-old Victor Damian “Vitin” and Pace star Victor Victor.
3: After serving as a starting pitcher and first baseman at Coral Reef, Mederos transferred to Pace for his sophomore year. At Pace, he was a star on the mound last season, posting a 6-1 record and a 1.93 ERA. He also hit .255.
Still, getting from his home in Cutler Bay to the Pace campus in Miami Gardens on the other end of the county is not easy. And once Mederos enrolled, he found out some news that made his trip even more difficult.
“We have practices at 6 a.m.,” Mederos said. “That means I have to wake up at 4 [a.m.] to be there at six. After practice, we would run, lift weights and do bear crawls in the sand pit.
“It’s a huge sacrifice, but I do it because of our coach [Tom Duffin] and the way he treats us. He’s gotten me to where I’m supposed to be.”
4: Mederos, a math whiz who is interested in business and finance as college majors, committed to the University of Miami two years ago, in part because of Hurricanes pitching coach J.D. Arteaga.
Mederos visited UM as a freshman. UM offered him a scholarship during that visit, but Mederos didn’t want to commit so early in his prep career.
Arteaga convinced him otherwise.
“He said, ‘It’s like love. Even if it’s the first thing you see, if you like it, there’s no reason to say no,’” Mederos said, recalling Arteaga’s sales pitch.
Mederos, who said his family never misses one of his games, also chose Miami because he wants to make it easy for them to see him.
5: When Mederos was two months old, his father fled Cuba by boat. Victor never stopped supporting his family financially. But, as far as little Victor Victor understood, his brother, Vitin, was his father figure if not his dad.
Vitin taught Victor Victor baseball and still to this day catches his brother’s bullpens.
“When scouts talk about his future and what they see in him,” Vitin said of his kid brother, “it makes me super proud. I see myself in him.”
Said Victor Victor: “My brother is like my best friend. Whenever my brother goes out, he always takes me. It’s a brotherly-love thing.”
6: A little over five years after Victor left Cuba for Miami, Odalys and her two sons got a visa to fly to Costa Rica. From there, Odalys, Vitin, who was 16 at the time, and Victor Victor, who was six, made a dangerous trip by land, sneaking across the borders of Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico before crossing into Texas with legal paperwork as asylum-seekers.
Victor, who by this time was a U.S. citizen, financed the trip, paying “guides” to escort his family in their six-nation odyssey.
7: Odalys, who was a lawyer in Cuba, said crossing the Costa Rica border into Nicaragua was “crazy.”
She and her sons had to lie atop a virtual bed of prickly pine cones, hiding while the search lights made their rotation. Once they got the command from their guides, they got up and raced across the border undetected.
8: The trip was full of little adventures, including riding in a car with a failing radiator that seemingly needed water every few feet.They also had to cross a river while sitting in a tire.
None of it fazed Mederos.
“I find the good in everything,” Mederos said. “I only have good memories of that trip.”
9: The Mederos trio left Costa Rica on January 1, 2008 and arrived in the U.S. on Jan. 11. Along the way, cold, hunger and fear were their constant companions.
Since they had to travel light, coats and sweaters were unavailable, and Odalys barely slept for those 11 days, afraid some stranger would snatch her children.
10: Once the Mederos crew arrived in Texas, they took a tiny 10-passenger airplane to Miami. This was not a major airline, and Vitin and Odalys remember looking out a window and seeing that one of the plane’s wings was apparently being held together by wires. Neither said anything, Mederos was oblivious, and everyone survived a tumultuous flight.
It was all worth it, though.
“Anytime I have a bad game, I know I can’t quit,” Mederos said. “I’m doing this for [my family]. They’re the ones who got me here.”
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