Lazaro Llanes, a former Miami Marlins scout and the ex-coach at Archbishop Carroll, has a new role as the international sports director for the Nogae Sports National baseball Academy in San Pedro de Macoris in the Dominican Republic.
Llanes, 48, started his new job on Dec. 1. He was hired by one of his former players at Carroll, Nolan Pena, the owner of the academy.
San Pedro de Macoris, a town of less than 200,000 people, might have the world’s highest ratio of producing major-league players in relation to the size of its population.
Llanes, who is still based in Miami but will be making several trips to the Dominican each year, is hoping to find more stars such as the ones previously to come out of San Pedro, including Robinson Cano, Sammy Sosa, Pedro Guerrero, Alfonso Soriano, Juan Samuel, Starlin Castro and Luis Castillo.
“The talent there is ridiculous, and the kids’ desire to get better is beyond what we normally see in the U.S.,” Llanes said. “I get goose bumps every time I step on that field.”
Llanes said the Nogae facility is first rate, including covered batting cages and a manicured field.
Nogae has 15 kids in its academy at the moment, mostly ages 14 to 16, and the goal is to get as many of them signed with pro teams as possible.
Llanes said Nogae could have 60 kids in the academy, but he and Pena are being selective, taking only the best players with the highest character.
Nogae has five coaches and a trainer working full-time with the kids, who do not attend school and are not charged a fee to be part of the academy.
There are more than 100 baseball academies in the Dominican, and all of them operate in a similar fashion. They only make money if a major-league organization signs one of their players.
Baseball’s international draft is July 2, and Nogae is expected to have three players selected. That alone would represent a huge opportunity for any player from the Dominican.
“This is their dream,” Llanes said of the kids in his academy. “It’s like a boy in Brazil who dreams of playing pro soccer. In the Dominican, baseball is the dream and a path to a better life.”
Marina Andreoni-Stewart is intent on coaching Cypress Bay’s girls’ tennis team, which has five seniors, all with tennis scholarships for college, to its third consecutive state title in April.
In the meantime, though, Andreoni-Stewart has an even bigger star in her own home. That’s her daughter: Katerina Stewart, 18, who is ranked No. 158 in the world among professional women’s tennis players. In fact, of the WTA’s top 200 players, Stewart is the second youngest.
Both of Stewart’s parents — Marina, who is from Argentina, and Cesar, who is from Romania — played professional tennis. Cesar now serves as Stewart’s coach.
THIS AND THAT
▪ Former Southridge running back Troy Davis, who played for Iowa State in the 1990s, will be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame during the National Football Foundation Annual Awards Dinner on Dec. 6 in New York City.
▪ Former Ransom goalie Ashleigh Johnson, who is now a senior at Princeton University, was recently named the world’s top female Water Polo Athlete of the Year by Swimming World and also by Water Polo World magazines. Johnson, 21, will be the starting goalie for Team USA in this summer’s Olympic Games in Brazil.
▪ Hector Torres, Gulliver’s assistant head softball coach and pitching coordinator, was recently named the head coach of the Spanish National Team. He will coach Spain starting this summer.
▪ St. Thomas Aquinas lacrosse player Nick Borodiak comes from a family of athletes. His father, Ivan, played in the Major Indoor Soccer League. Nick’s grandfather, John, played 14 years in the North American Soccer League, including a stint with Pelé as part of the New York Cosmos. Nick, a senior, has signed to play lacrosse at the University of Tampa.