Recruits and Prospects
Growing up in the Dominican Republic one cannot help but learn about and learn to love the game of baseball. Just ask any one of the hundreds of players born there who have made it to the big leagues.
All it takes is a cursory glance at the all-time list of Dominican born players to know how extensive the learning process is. From Adrian Beltre, Robinson Cano, and Jose Reyes to Albert Pujols, Rafael Furcal and the legendary Alou brothers, this popular resort country has produced some of the most successful, famous ballplayers in major league history.
Senior Shortstop–2nd baseman–pitcher Jose Garcia, a product of the Dominican Republic and of Trenton Central High School (TCHS), hopes someday to become one of them.
In the words of his Uncle Marcos, Jose “eats, lives, and breathes baseball,” and he has done so ever since he played in Little League…at the age of 7. He had a gift and a passion for the game from the first time he set foot on a baseball field. It’s the legacy of growing up in the D.R.
Uncle Marcos continues, explaining how Jose “always qualified to play at higher levels.” At age 12 he played with the 15 year-olds, and, in the process, he learned how to hit to the opposite field. He “always made contact, but the ball came in faster, so he had to learn to go the other way.”
On defense Jose plays with a precision and flamboyance rarely seen in players at the scholastic level. More remarkable, he does so with a modesty that belies his high octane performance on the field. Blessed with a strong, accurate throwing arm and the range of a gazelle, he routinely makes plays that elude most other players his age. It is fair to say, in fact, that his skills rival those of players four and five years his senior. Nothing new there.
Jose prefers playing 2nd base, but he has made his mark on Mercer County baseball as a shortstop. In 2009 he accentuated that mark by leading the Colonial Valley Conference (CVC), known for its competitive, scholastic baseball programs, in hitting and stolen bases. At times, he has also pitched for Trenton Central. Effective though he has been on the mound, he readily admits that he “hates to pitch.”
It’s been said that the sincerest form of flattery is imitation. Similarly, the truest measure of leadership is how people and events rally around you. Jose exhibited his leadership when he attended middle school. Dunn Middle School in Trenton, New Jersey, did not have a baseball team until Jose enrolled there. His mercurial talents encouraged the formation of the first-ever baseball team at the school.
New paradigms seem to emerge wherever Jose finds himself. Presently, he is a focal point around which Head Coach Paul Ash is building a new baseball power to be reckoned with in the CVC. Under Coach Paul’s guidance and direction, the TCHS baseball program projects a new energy that permeates the team and the school.
For the first time in recent memory, baseball tryouts took place indoors during the winter and took on a regimented training approach. Coach Paul introduced a new team philosophy that focuses on mental discipline on the field, development of speed, agility, and strength, and a commitment to succeeding.
His young charges have responded to the call, exhibiting a never-say-die attitude and a work ethic that TCHS baseball has not seen in recent years. In addition to being stronger, faster, and more knowledgeable about the game, Coach Paul’s players take a disciplined approach to hitting, working pitch counts and executing properly in specific game situations.
Predictably, Jose Garcia personifies these attributes. In doing so, he serves as an inspiration to his teammates and a foundation upon which Coach Paul plans to build for the future. Coach Paul appreciates him as “a complete team player, with a passion for the game.” An All-Star selection to the annual Carpenter’s Cup in 2009 and again in 2010, Jose figures to advance quickly in the sport he loves.
His trainer, Jim Ash, expects MLB to make him a high draft choice following his high school graduation. The quintessential 5-tool player, Jose, who runs a blistering 6.4 60-yard dash, grades out as an A+ performer in all categories.
Jose cites Coaches Paul and Jim as having had a profound influence on his development both as a player and as a man. He describes them as “two angels God put in front of me” to give him the opportunity to advance that he now has. In response, both coaches acknowledge the “strength and support of the Garcia family,” without which their coaching and training might not have succeeded as well as they did. Coach Paul in particular lauds how “coachable” his star player is.
Jose cannot say enough about the encouragement and love that he has received from his father, Jose Sr., and his uncle Marcos. “They were always my strongest, right-hand supporters,” he says proudly. It was his dad who brought him to America so he could capitalize on “opportunities in the U.S. for playing baseball.”
He also thanks his American Legion Coach Doug More and his Little League Coach, Tony Batista, who taught him how to properly grip the bat. Until he met Coach Batista, Jose used an unorthodox, hand-over-hand grip with his hands reversed. His first hit after receiving the proper instruction from Coach Tony was a triple. Talk about being coachable.
A mark of his humility, Jose reserves a major part of his gratitude for his Creator. “I thank God for the talent he gave me to play,” he says fervently. He hopes, and his family and coaches are confident, that his talent will take him to the Major Leagues.
In addition to wanting to play professionally, he wants very much to give back to his family and to the young players who come after him. “I want to help others. I want them to know that they can make it.” It is most definitely a mark of his maturity that he strives to be a role model for younger players.
Like the professionals he tries to emulate, he advises kids to “copy the major leaguers, focus on baseball, and avoid trouble.” He talks further about helping “needy populations” and showing that “hard work makes a difference.” Above all, the life lessons that he has learned from playing baseball he wants to teach to others.
With his honesty and commitment, Jose Garcia will succeed regardless of where his life takes him. Clearly, his passion for the game translates into a passion for living the right way and giving back to those less fortunate than he.
We at New Jersey Baseball Magazine cannot think of a more worthy candidate to reach the pinnacles of success in baseball that this earnest young man so richly deserves.