The varsity baseball team at Coral Gables Senior High comes back to the field this season with a lineup full of leadership.
Fifteen seniors return to the team after going 18-9 last year. The Cavaliers made a deep run in the playoffs before losing to Columbus in the district 8A-15 championship game.
Head coach Phil Wisser hopes his veteran players can push them further along when spring rolls around.
“Our strong point is leadership and age,” Wisser said. “A lot of these guys have been playing at the varsity level for three years. This is the year they’ve been waiting for and this is their last shot as a team and as a family. The depth in leadership and the experience factor is going to be our biggest asset.”
Out of those 15 seniors, nine players are set to continue their athletic careers past graduation. Division 1 commits include catcher Elih Marrero to Mississippi State, shortstop Coco Montes to the University of South Florida, pitcher Andrew Cabezas to the University of Miami, and relief pitcher Jose Padron to Jackson State in Mississippi. Infielders Franky Montesino and Anthony Valdes are both committed to D-2 Stillman College in Alabama.
Other commits include Raymond Gonzalez to Palm Beach State College, Rolando Rodriguez to Broward College, and Carlos Perez to ASA College.
Despite having a deep list of commitments, Wisser said he is still not satisfied.
“I’m not done,” Wisser said. “My goal, by the end of the year, is to have 15 out of 15 play college baseball. That would be a state championship for me.”
The Cavaliers believe they are prepared to excel in all aspects of the game. With eight players in the bullpen and experience on the field, Wisser said the well-balanced team is powerful all the way around.
“A lot of teams know what we’re capable of and know the experience that we have,” he said. “We can hit, play defense and we can pitch.
We’re going to have one of the top teams in the county this season. It’s a well put-together team and they all know what roles they have to play.”
The team currently is attracting a lot of major league coverage between four powerhouse players. Marrero is the son of Eli Marrero Sr. who played in the Major Leagues for 10 years. Wisser said Marrero Jr. is projected in the top five rounds for the MLB draft. Montes, Cabezas and Rodriguez also are options to be drafted next year.
“Those four players are going to help us stand out, but for us to go out there and win it all and to make a deep run in the playoffs it’s going to be a group effort,” Wisser said. “At the end of the day the other teams know what our big guys can do so it’s the other guys that you don’t hear about as much that are going to come in with the big hits and make the big pitch out of the bullpen. Those are the guys that are going to have a big impact on our team.”
Senior Franky Montesino said the ring of older players are ready to step up to the plate and give it their all.
“We’ve all been together for a long time so we’re really trying to go for that ring,” Montesino said. “We wake up at 4:30 every morning to work out before school and we’re really working hard to reach our goal to come back and win it all. We’re working on being stronger mentally and never giving up.”
The Cavaliers open up their pre-season against Westminster Christian on Feb. 3 and face off against the West Broward Bobcats in their first game of the regular season on Feb. 11.