Miami Dade College left-hander Tyler Monzon’s choice to enroll at Florida Atlantic University as a most popular walk-on this fall was not precisely headline news by itself.
But it’s important for what it says about MDC’s baseball program — led by coach Adrian Morales — and the Sharks’ means to develop expertise.
Morales credit Monzon and MDC pitching coach Bryan Morgado for the work they put in to get this far.
“Tyler has a remarkable story because he had no options coming out of high school,” Morales mentioned of Monzon, who performed for Florida Christian. “He was on our 50-man fall roster in 2020 as a favor (to a mutual friend).
“But to his credit, he earned one of 30 roster spots for the 2021 season.”
Morgado, who received a state title at Florida Christian in 2005, was additionally a lefty pitcher in his day. Morgado was an All-American on the University of Tennessee and a fourth-round choose of the Phillies in 2010. He had a seven-year minor-league profession and has discovered so much about pitching alongside the best way.
So, when Morgado noticed Monzon pitch in highschool, he made a right away advice.
“I told him, ‘If you want to step foot on the MDC campus, you are going to have throw across your body with a low three-quarters arm slot to create deception,’” Morgado mentioned. “Otherwise, I didn’t see how this soft-tossing lefty with an overhand delivery fit into our program.”
Monzon listened … and labored.
As an MDC freshman, he obtained simply 3 1/3 innings, posting a bloated 8.10 ERA.
However, Monzon was good as a sophomore, going 2-0 with a 1.94 ERA and 52 strikeouts in 45 2/3 innings.
“It took [Monzon] a full year to get him confident in his delivery,” Morgado mentioned. “As a sophomore, he was finally able to repeat his release point.”
Monzon nonetheless isn’t a tough thrower. Morgado helped Monzon improve his velocity from 77 mph to an 81-85 vary.
“But his game is deception,” Morgado mentioned. “His slider can be unhittable to lefty hitters because it looks like the ball is coming from behind them.”
Morales mentioned Monzon additionally modified to a slide-step supply.“That made his location pinpoint,” Morales mentioned. “He could be FAU’s lefty reliever.”
Morgado and Morales are each 33 years previous, and the latter is continuous a grand custom of MDC baseball.
Historically, MDC’s baseball program has been dwelling to excellent head coaches comparable to Steve Hertz, Demie Mainieri, Charlie Greene and Danny Price.
Morales, who changed the retired Price in time for the 2020 season, has so much to be pleased with, together with one thing that occurred again in December throughout the MLB lockout. During that point, a number of major-league stars — together with Marlins pitcher Sandy Alcantara and Mets outfielder Starling Marte — used MDC’s Kendall subject to maintain in form.
Then, on July 19, former MDC infielder Santiago Espinal, now a member of the Blue Jays, performed in his first MLB All-Star Game.
Also on July 19, MDC pitcher William Silva was drafted within the 19th spherical by the Braves.
Even with the draft minimize to only 5 rounds in 2020 and to twenty rounds (down from 40) beginning in 2021, MDC has nonetheless had 5 gamers chosen by MLB groups prior to now 4 years.
In addition, pitcher Brandon Norriega, who was with MDC this previous fall earlier than opting to affix an unbiased league, was drafted within the 11th spherical this yr by the Cubs. And MDC pitcher Andy Rodriguez lately signed with the Rangers as an undrafted free agent.
From final season’s MDC workforce, a number of different gamers have signed with four-year faculties: right-hander Matthew Fernandez (Pitt); right-hander Marvin De La Hoz (Valdosta State); catcher Nicolas Pitelli (FIU); outfielder Jorge Braceras (Bethune-Cookman); and third baseman Luis Espinal (North Carolina A&T).
Morales was fast to share credit score with the remainder of his workers, which incorporates veteran catchers coach Rudy Arias in addition to Antonio Alvarez, who works with the infielders and on base-running.
Ironically, Morgado and Morales have been rivals throughout their enjoying days within the Southeastern Conference. Morales, a two-time nationwide champion at South Carolina, homered off of Morgado in his first SEC at-bat.
But Morales identified that Morgado struck him out this previous December in an alumni sport, incomes revenge.
Also, when Morales obtained the job to interchange Price, the primary particular person he known as for a job was Morgado attributable to his huge expertise as a pitcher.
“He’s an asset to our program,” Morales mentioned of Morgado, “and we’ve become close friends.”
Silva, the participant drafted by the Braves this yr, is one other instance of the work Morgado has carried out at MDC.
Morgado and Silva each come from the identical Westchester part of Miami. Even so, there have been early points.
“William didn’t buy in, and he struggled,” Morgado mentioned. “He was a tough one to crack. After the first year, he finally asked me what he needed to do, and from there we started grinding.”
Monzon mentioned the grind is actual.
“With [Morales], I worked on mental toughness,” Monzon mentioned. “I became resilient, a nonstop fighter.
“But I also spent countless hours every day working with [Morgado] on arm angle. If I were to tell people how long I spent on mechanics, they would think I’m lying. But this didn’t happen overnight.”