Freshman left handed pitcher Eliezar Garcia Jr., who boasts an impressive repertoire that includes a changeup, a breaking ball and a near-90 MPH fastball, is expected to make an impact on Miami Dade College's baseball team this season.
Coaches are still trying to decide if Garcia will be a starter or a reliever, but he is expected to be one of the team's best pitchers.
"He has a chance to be really good," said Sharks head baseball coach Danny Price.
Garcia's passion for baseball started at a young age. When he was 10, his father, Eliezar Garcia, put him in the Latino Americana Baseball Academy so he could develop as a player. While at the academy, Garcia bolstered his work ethic. He practiced Monday through Saturday and played in tournaments and leagues year round. Garcia played in the league until he reached high school.
During his high school career, Garcia played at South Dade Senior High School before transferring to Miami Killian Senior High School for his senior year. As a senior, Garcia compiled a 5-2 record with an earned run average of 1.89.
He was named to the 2017 9A-16 All-District Team and was also selected for the 2017 Senior All-Star Public School Team.
Price said he knew that Garcia was a player he wanted on his team as far back as two years ago. The southpaw pitched for the Florida Legends, a prestigious South Florida summer team. The program gave Price an opportunity to get a final look at Garcia.
"[Pitching] Coach [Kevin] Long found him," Price said. "We have seen him throw for a couple years and he has continuously gotten better and better and better."
Garcia spends his free time running or working out to improve his overall condition.
When his baseball career is over, Garcia would like to start a baseball academy to inspire others to play the sport he loves.
"When I played for an academy when I was little it was so much fun," Garcia said. "I want every kid to get a chance to experience that feeling and to learn a lot of baseball."
The Sharks open their season on the road Jan. 26 at 5 p.m. versus Pensacola State College at the St. Petersburg Tournament in Clearwater, Florida.
Sports Editor Giovanni Del Fa contributed to this report.