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BASEBALL POWER: Miami Dade Community College
By Matt Shepard
Published: Winter 1998
The Miami-Dade Baseball team was good, but exactly how good was yet to be proved. Coach Steve Hertz and his team had it in their hearts that they were the best and they were out to prove it. Coach Hertz is a man well acquainted with the smell of victory. He is a coach that produces champions. In an effort to give his players and staff at Miami-Dade Community College Wolfson Campus an extra boost, he decided to put on a BFS clinic and was ecstatic with the results. Coach Len Walencikowski put on the clinic for the Miami-Dade Falcons. Coach Hertz raves, “Your clinic regarding the BFS Program was very instrumental in motivating and educating our student/athletes to the advantages of not only a stronger body but a stronger mind as well.”
Coach Hertz believes that a strong body is nothing without an accompanying strong mind. This is only accomplished through hard work and dedication. You need to have a strong will. This unbreakable personal desire creates champions. Again in praise of his clinic, Coach Hertz says, “The discipline and dedication demanded by the BFS Program helped to propel our baseball program into state and national prominence last season as Miami-Dade advanced to the FCCAA State Baseball Tournament and into the championship game.” The Miami-Dade Falcons had an outstanding year. The team has not only developed a winning attitude in baseball but, more importantly, a winning attitude in life.
About his teams efforts, the Falcon coach states. “Our record of 43-13 was the best among Florida Community Colleges last year and several school records were broken. Most of our players had outstanding seasons.”
To illustrate what a lot of dedication, discipline, and hard work can do, here are some of the teams individual highlights:
TONY GARCIA- This first baseman drove in 75 runs for the year and broke the MDCC All-Campus home run record with 18 HR's. He hit .372 and was named to the FCCAA 2nd Team All-State squad and was a 1st Team All-Southern Conference player at first base. Tony also was honored with the FCCAA Bill Tuten Award as the state's scholar/athlete and signed a $75,000 bonus contract with the Chicago White Sox.
ANDRES TORRES- This Miami-Dade star added 20 pounds of muscle from the start of his freshman year to the end of his sophomore season. He progressed from a 24th round draft pick (Florida Marlins offered a $10,000 signing bonus) to a 4th round selection by the Detroit Tigers. He signed for $150,000. Playing center field, Andres batted .333 on the year and was 2nd in the state in stolen bases; out of 44 stolen base attempts, he only got caught twice. He was also named to the All-Southern Conference 1st Team.
JESUS FELICIANO- This freshman is an outfielder from Puerto Rico. He was offered $10,000 to sign with the Los Angeles Dodgers out of high school. After working out during the fall and winter with the BFS Program he added 13 pounds and batted .400 during the regular season; in over 200 at bats, he only struck out 12 times. Jesus was named to the FCCAA 1st Team All-Southern Conference and All-State Team. He ended up signing with the Dodgers just prior to the draft for $80,000. Jesus also led the state in triples and was 3rd in stolen bases.
LUIS SUAREZ- After his first season at MDCC as a shortstop, Luis was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the 35th round. He was offered $15,000 to sign but turned it down to return for his sophomore season. He then added 12 pounds of muscle on the BFS program and .363 with 21 doubles and 54 runs scored. Luis was named to the All-Southern Conference 1st Team and finally signed for $90,000 with the White Sox just prior to the 1998 draft.
DARIEL BAEZ- Dariel worked hard all season long to add 13 pounds of muscle. His added strength helped him lead the team in hitting with a .429 average while adding 20 doubles, 5 home runs and 50 RBI. This third baseman was named to the All-Southern Conference 1st team.
CARLOS CASTILLO- This 5'9”, 150 pound freshman added 20 pounds to his frame to end his first season at MDCC at 170 pounds. As an infielder Carlos batted .352 and added 19 doubles, 5 triples, 4 home runs and 47 runs batted in to the team stats. He was named to the All-Southern Conference 2nd Team. The Chicago White Sox drafted him in the 22nd round but he opted to return to MDCC for his sophomore year.
About the progress and accomplishments of his players Coach Hertz informed us, “It is no coincidence that your presentation of the BFS Program was extremely instrumental in the results produced by these players and other members of last year's team. Thirteen members of this year's squad were named to FCCAA All-Southern Conference Teams. Thanks again, so much, for all of your help. All of us a MDCC are looking forward to using the BFS Program again for the 1998-99 season.” The Falcons definitely had a great season and plans to continue on in excellence. It just goes to show, dedication, discipline, and desire can make dreams come true.