As far as Erick Orbeta can remember, he has always held a baseball and a bat in his hands.
Now the 5-foot-11-inch second baseman, who played at Hillsborough Community College last year, hopes to show off his skills as one of the key additions to the Sharks revamped roster.
Orbeta had a stellar freshman season last year in Tampa Bay. He was named to the First-Team All-Suncoast conference, had a .337 batting average, scored 32 runs and stole 23 bases in 48 games for the Hawks.
“He’s kind of a throwback baseball-wise,” said Sharks head baseball coach Adrian Morales. “He’s a kid that’s not limited to just pulling the baseball, you know, he can use the whole field. He doesn’t strike out much, he puts the ball in play and sometimes you lose sight of that in the new age of baseball where guys just want to hit home runs.”
Orbeta was born to parents with Filipino and Cuban roots, but he spent his childhood in Miami dreaming of becoming a Hall of Famer. He started his high school career at Miami Sunset Senior High School before transferring to Southwest Miami Senior High School where he played in his junior and senior seasons. At Southwest, he was named to the First-team All-Dade and posted a .471 batting average while stealing 24 bases—the most ever in a single season in the Eagle’s history.
After graduating from high school in 2018, Orbeta went on to play at Hillsborough Community College in Tampa. Living four hours away from home was emotionally tough for him because he didn’t see his family as often. That’s when he decided to transfer to Miami Dade College.
“I wanted to be close to home. Being on my own taught me a lot,” Orbeta said. “I just didn’t want to be away from my family. I missed the home-cooked meals. I missed being with my little brother and going to practice with him to teach him more.”
The transition has been smooth for Orbeta. He’s familiar with the city and the head coach. Orbeta first met Morales at a summer ball camp when he was 16 and they developed a good relationship.
Now a sophomore, he brings experience and offensive prowess to the Sharks. His charisma, positivity and work ethic have made him a good fit for the team.
“He provides energy,” said Sharks sophomore outfielder Ian Jenkins. “[If] I’m coming to practice and having a down day and I’m not feeling too well, I can always look over at Eric and know that he’s gonna be cheerful and happy and that he’s gonna provide some energy and brighten my day.”
The Sharks’ next game will be Feb. 14 on the road versus St. Johns River State College at 4 p.m. at Palatka, Florida.