The Miami Dade College baseball team is loaded with experienced talent for the upcoming 2017 season.
Last year, MDC finished 27-20 overall and 16-12 versus conference opponents. They made the Florida College System Activities Association State Tournament, but were eliminated early on in the qualifying round.
The team was dealt a blow last year when they were forced to forfeit several games due to having academically ineligible players participate in those games. It ruined their hot 19-6 start and the team never recovered from it.
Currently, the team is mostly filled with sophomores, some who are returning from last year’s team and others who transferred to MDC. Sharks Head Baseball Coach Danny Price is excited about the veteran filled team.
“It is absolutely an advantage,” Price said. “The kids are a little older, and to build toward everything is always an advantage to the team.”
Among the returning players from last season are pitchers Ernesto Pino, Boris Villa, Kevin Lara and Jose Trinidad, infielders Raul Cabrera and Bruce Martin, third baseman Jackie Urbaez, catcher Danny Mondejar, first baseman Kevin Barbato, and outfielder Ramon Varela.
Another player from last year’s team expected to make a leap is Martin, a native of Boynton Beach. In only 54 at bats, Martin had nine RBI, one home run, and five stolen bases.
“I focused on pretty much strength and speed,” Martin said of his offseason preparation for this season.
For the first time since Price took the head coach position at MDC in 2011, Price will be going into a season without his long time trusted assistant Jim Mansilla, who retired from the team in early August. Mansilla has coached at MDC for more than 30 years, originally starting out as an assistant coach at North Campus.
“When people want to retire and they want to be home, you have to honor their wishes,” Price said. “He was very devoted and when he retired, I respected that.”
There are currently no plans to hire a replacement for Mansilla.
The Sharks start their season on the road Jan. 27 at 5 p.m. versus Pensacola State College at Jack Russell Field.