Miami Killian High School baseball has a long tradition of winning and head coach Angel Herrera believes the 2017 team will be able to grab hold of the winning torch and run towards another successful season.
“I coach people, not talent or reputation,” Herrera said. “I am a firm believer that you play how you live. Being a good teammate and human being has shown me that doing those things leads to success.”
Herrera, entering his 12th year as Killian’s head coach, conceded talent is important, but having coachable players is key to winning consistently as a program.
“We are excited and confident and anxious to get started with the season,” he said.
When examining the team’s strengths, Herrera is excited to see last year’s strong defense become the team’s strength. The defense returns seven consistent starters, coupled with transfers, who are committed to play for Division I colleges and universities next year.
Freddy Zamora and Gabriel Rivera, both University of Miami signees, are expected to man the shortstop and right field positions, respectively. Alongside Rivera, Danny Trillo will return at centerfield, which is his strong suit, according to Herrera.
The team’s defensive depth allowed Herrera to move Chris Garcia to third base and give first-time varsity sophomore Matthew Ojeda the chance to make a name for himself in Killian’s program.
“Matthew is outstanding defensively, and he did not make one error during fall ball,” Herrera said. “Our defense was a strength last year, but it is arguably stronger this year.”
At the plate
In addition to an experienced defense, the new blood on the team is having a positive influence on the program’s veterans. Even players like Freddy Zamora, a Major League prospect according to Herrera, who have started since freshman year, already have benefited from the new additions.
“Rivera has set the tone for the program with his work ethic and pushing other guys,” Herrera said. “He comes to us from Christopher Columbus, and he has set a tremendous example for our guys.”
Another returning bat Herrera hopes continues to produce is Chris Garcia, who hit .350 with five home runs last year.
Although offensive power is welcomed, a complete offense consists of more than just power hitters. Herrera compares a fine tuned offense to a band with different instruments that are all critical to function.
“It’s like a band; if all the different pieces play their note, then you can make beautiful music,” Herrera said.
Scoring runs is critical, but Herrera is happy to see the depth in the starting rotation. Ryan Floyd is expected to lead the pitching staff on the mound and in the locker room.
The right-handed senior finished last season with a 6-2 record and a 2.84 ERA, and junior Roger Ceballos had a 1.53 ERA. There also is
Eliezer Garcia, a lefty who can touch 90 miles per hour with his fastball.
“Our starting rotation, combined with our strong bullpen, will give us a solid pitching staff,” Herrera said.
As the season approaches, Herrera wants to see his players follow the process that has led to a winning culture for Killian baseball.
The team had a 17-9-1 record last year, and 88 wins combined the last five seasons. Killian’s season ended in the regional quarterfinal against Southwest, and Herrera wants to see his more experienced squad deal with the obstacles ahead to make a deeper playoff push.
“I want to see my team deal with adversity, because we are in an extremely competitive district and county,” Herrera said.