Youth Sports

Miami Marlins honor Cuni, Milian, Rassif, Royo, Shechtman in June

Miami Marlins relief pitcher Kyle Barraclough presents Chaz Royo (Doctors Charter Middle School Baseball) a certificate for being a Miami Marlins Team Player Honoree for June in conjunction with the Miami Herald. The honorees were recognized before the Marlins/Chicago Cubs game at Marlins Park.
Miami Marlins relief pitcher Kyle Barraclough presents Chaz Royo (Doctors Charter Middle School Baseball) a certificate for being a Miami Marlins Team Player Honoree for June in conjunction with the Miami Herald. The honorees were recognized before the Marlins/Chicago Cubs game at Marlins Park.

Eduardo Cuni (Claude Pepper Elementary School/USSA Little League Baseball), Daniel N. Milian (Ruth K. Broad Bay Harbor K-8 Center/North Miami Beach Little League Baseball), Saarah Rassif (Miami Country Day School Varsity Softball), Chaz Royo (Doctors Charter Middle School Baseball), and Delaney Shechtman (Christa McAuliffe Middle School/West Boynton Fastpitch Softball) are the Miami Marlins Team Player Honorees for June in conjunction with the Miami Herald.

They were recognized for their academics in the classroom and sportsmanship on the field. Marlins relief pitcher Kyle Barraclough and Billy the Marlin congratulated them during the ceremony, before the Marlins/Chicago Cubs 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.

Youth league coaches, team representatives, teachers, friends or family members can nominate youth baseball or softball players, who display sportsmanship and good grades or academic improvements. Eligible nominees are from the recreational in-house league, travel league or school league (elementary school or middle school aged) from any season of the year.

Honored players – selected by random drawing – will be invited to a Marlins game where they will receive a certificate of achievement during a recognition ceremony at Marlins Park.

About the honorees

Eddie Cuni, 8, Claude Pepper Elementary School, plays tournament baseball in the USSA Little League program.

Off the field, he is an Honor Roll student.

Teacher Larry DeSario: “His skills are superb. Ever since the second grade, Eddie has shown a penchant for batting, power hitting farther than most of my fifth grade students. Eddie is very good-natured and exhibits sportsmanship among his peers. He has a bright future in any endeavor that he chooses to participate in, especially baseball. I find Eddie to be a pleasure to have in my physical education class. He is a very nice young man and is popular with his teachers.”

Eddie’s team was invited to a Little League World Series type tournament at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista. A power hitter, he also plays baseball in the 8U Kid Pitch Division at Tamiami Park.

Daniel N. Milian, 10, Ruth K. Broad Bay Harbor K-8 Center, plays baseball for North Miami Beach Little League.

He has been playing in the North Miami Beach Little League since he was 5. He has a great love for baseball. He puts forward his maximum effort both in school and in the field. We would like to nominate him for the recognition. Attached are two letter from both his teacher and baseball coach.

Teacher Frances Mora: “It is with great pleasure to recommend Daniel Milian for the academics sportsmanship award. He is one of the most exceptional students in the classroom, and has a keen interest and talent in all subjects. He is a perceptive, sharp, quick individual with a high aptitude in Mathematics and Reading. He is driven to understand how things work and displays a joy for learning. Daniel exudes an active, outgoing presence in class with a great sense of humor. He has my highest recommendation for this award.. He has demonstrated excellence in all that he puts his mind to.”

Coach Kenny Fill: “Daniel (Danny) Milian is a true leader on our Little League baseball team. He has great passion for the game of baseball. He demonstrates tremendous character on the field and in the dugout. He leads by example to his teammates with exemplary sportsmanship and hard work. Daniel is a great teammate and tremendous young man.”

Saarah Rassif, 12, Miami Country Day Middle School, plays high school varsity softball.

Saarah completed seventh grade at Miami Country Day School where she played up, starting at catcher for the high school varsity softball team.

Off the field, she made the Director’s List for outstanding academics and was also selected for membership in the National Junior Honor Society. She is also active in Reach for the Stars, a charity helping individuals who have Cystic Fibrosis.

Coach Antonopoulos: “Saarah is a credit to her family, her school and to our team, and a pleasure to coach.”

Chaz Royo, 14, Doctors Charter Middle School, plays baseball for the school’s young and improved program.

Chaz was a tri-captain of the baeball team. He was a leader and key contributor on and off the diamond as the second year program improved its record to 9-12-1 after going 3-15 in the school’s inaugural season.

Coach Paul Calli: “Chaz is a coach’s player. He loves the game and works hard to improve every day in every aspect. “Just let me get a few more” is what the coaches often hear from Chaz. As a tri-captain, he helped unify the team and build chemistry and cohesion on the diamond and off, helping to make this year’s Doctors Charter team a tight knit group on its way to a respectful 9-12-1 record. Chaz respects the game and the uniform and demonstrates sportsmanship toward his opponents at all times, playing hard but with humility and never drawing attention to himself except through his play. Chaz understands the primary importance of school and that it is an honor to be a scholar athlete. He works hard to maintain his grades and exhibits concentrated time management skills to ensure his school work comes first.”

In the classroom, Chaz maintains a 3.0 GPA. His favorite subjects and teachers and the reasons therefor follow:

Favorite Subjects and Teachers:

HISTORY with Ms. Jadallah: “Because she teaches us all sort of cool things about life that really happened”

CAREER & CITIZENSHIP with Ms Buozo: “Because we learn things that we will really use when we grow up”

PHYSICAL EDUCATION with Coach Morales: “Because I love getting exercise and playing all sports”


In the sixth game of the Middle School Baseball Season (Feb. 20, 2016) the DCS Hawks played Marathon Middle School and Chaz started on the mound. In the first inning he struck out the first two batters, walked the third batter, and then threw a fastball that got away and accidentally struck Marathon's hitter in the face, under the left eye. It was a frightening scene and Chaz felt badly, and asked to be pulled out as pitcher. He sat out the rest of that game. Fortunately the Marathon player recovered but sustained facial injuries.

Chaz decided to take on some extra jobs around the house so that he could earn an extra $110 with the goal of buying the Marathon player a new top-of-the-line Easton Helmet with a custom C-Flap installed on the new helmet, to protect the hitter’s jaw. We kept in touch with the Marathon Coaches, and when the two schools played again the following month, the two kids got to see each other again and shake hands and even chat a bit between games.

Somehow Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins heard about the Marathon batter’s experience -- similar to what had happened to Stanton -- and Stanton sent the Marathon player a video message from training camp with well wishes for a speedy recovery.

The helmet Chaz sent fits, and the marathon player has recovered well, and hopefully will be stepping back into the batter’s box soon. The two kids live quite a distance from each other, but the fact that they both stayed in touch and helped each other through the healing process is noteworthy.

Season Stats:

Batting Ave .512; On Base Pct .593; Slugging Pct .930; Hits 22; HR 4; RBI 14; Games Played 21; Runs 22; Stolen Bases 35 for 36.

Positions Played: Shortstop, Pitcher, Third Base, First Base.

Pitching: 38.33 innings / 12 Hits / 74 Ks / 58 Walks+HBP / .510 strike pct.

Defensive Fielding: 28 of 32 with 4 errors

Delaney Shechtman, 13, Christa McAuliffe Middle School, plays softball for the West Boynton Fastpitch Softball League.

She just began playing softball and picked up the game quickly, becoming a starting pitcher.

Coach Travis Smith: “She’s always on time, never misses practice and is very dedicated.”

As a seventh grader, Delaney took all honors classes as well as a high school level math class. Her GPA is 4.0, and her honors GPA is 4.2857. She has been on the Honor Roll every semester and won an award for excellence in Language Arts (an 8th grade class).

Mr. Ehrlich, science teacher: “We need to clone her. I wish every student was like her.”

She is a member of the National Junior Honor Society as well as the school’s Jazz band, playing trombone. The Jazz band is voluntary and meets before school to practice. She developed a passion for music and practices constantly. In her spare time, she draws and loves to cook.