NMMI Sports Press
The season opener is still almost two months away, but seven Bronco baseball players have already signed to move up to four-year colleges.
"I think we're up to 20 sophomores (on the team) and these seven guys have had opportunities to present themselves," said coach Chris Cook. "They felt really good about their offers and have decided to make their commitments."
Those seven (in order of signing) include Adrian Arpero, Rafael Perez Guzman, Gerry Lerma, Gabriel Perez Torres, Eric Estrada, Miguel Soto and Cedric Renaud. They've signed with D-I and D-II schools all across the country, and several will be joining former teammates.
El Paso's Arpero is headed to Jackson State University in Jackson, Miss., a D-I school in the Southwestern Athletic Conference.
"They (the Tiger Coaches) saw him throw in the All-Star game this fall," Cook said of the pitcher from El Paso.
"It was a good choice. The school is pretty good and the offer was good," Arpero said.
Rafael Perez Guzman, a Venezuelan native, picked D-I Bethune Christian University in Daytona Beach, Fla.
"He did a heck of a job recruiting himself," Cook said. "I think he got that process started with an email."
Perez said he picked the Wildcats because it's close to where his family is now living in Florida.
"I'm looking forward to seeing my mom in the stands," the pitcher said.
Both Lerma, from Sahuarita, Ariz., and Roswell High's Perez picked D-II powerhouse Lubbock Christian University.
"We haven't had anybody sign there since I've been here," Cook said. "I think it was a combination of seeing them play in Albuquerque and Tucson, and talking to (NMMI) coach (Jermaine) Van Buren and his connection with coaches on that staff. So that's a heck of an opportunity for those two guys."
"It gave me good options in baseball and it's a great DII school," said Perez, a shortstop who added that he'll play any position he's needed.
"I chose Lubbock Christian because it's just a great program overall," Lerma, a right-handed pitcher, agreed.
Estrada and Soto, both from El Paso and both former Montwood High players, will be joining former Bronco Kirby Pimental at DII Southwestern Oklahoma State University.
"They both just kind of felt it was a perfect fit," Cook said, and the pair agreed.
"I thought it was the best program to let me follow my dreams," pitcher Estrada said.
"It was the best choice for me and my family," second-baseman Soto said.
The most recent signee is Cedric Reynaud, who'll be heading north to Alamosa, Colo., where he'll join former Dexter and NMMI pitcher Dominic Lomeli at D-II Adams State University.
"He's fired up about that," Cook said. "I know they need a catcher and he should walk in and get a chance to earn a lot of playing time."
"It's very exciting," the Centennial High, Las Cruces, grad said of playing with his former teammate. "I'm looking forward to it. He's looking forward to it. He's been telling me a little bit about the program and I'm just excited to be a part of it."
And while the future is already looking good for the septet, there's still another NMMI season to go, and everyone agrees it should be a good season.
"I really like our team," Soto, who will study criminal justice, said. "We have a lot of good guys who take it very seriously and are going to grind every day. We're going to be really good this year."
"This season is going to fly by but we've got to enjoy every second of it," Reynaud, who's got both liberal arts and criminal justice on the radar, said. "I love these guys to death but we've got to get to work. Every single game we've got to be locked in - our main goal is to make the regionals and beyond."
"I'm very excited, Gabe Perez, another criminal justice major, said. "I'm sure we're going to get a lot of wins this year. We've got a lot of potential."
"I think we're strong," Rafael Perez, who'll study business while keeping an eye on the MLB draft, said. "We're like a family this year. We have a really good pitching staff and we're working on our hitting."
And with another 14 or so sophomores still unsigned, Cook expects a lot more good news between now and the end of the season.
"We obviously still have more sophomores who are going to be finding opportunities between now and the summer, and we're looking forward to getting them placed," he said. "We're excited about this group of guys. They all work hard. They're all good kids and they're all really pumped up about the opportunities they've got next year at their new places."