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Jeter, Hill welcome Breakthrough Series to Miami

June 8, 2019

MIAMI -- Before Saturday's game between the Marlins and the Braves, a different group of baseball players took the field under the watchful eye of Marlins CEO Derek Jeter and Miami president of baseball operations Michael Hill. Sixty rising junior and senior baseball players -- some of the top players

MIAMI -- Before Saturday's game between the Marlins and the Braves, a different group of baseball players took the field under the watchful eye of Marlins CEO Derek Jeter and Miami president of baseball operations Michael Hill.

Sixty rising junior and senior baseball players -- some of the top players in the country -- visited Marlins Park before the game began as part of the diversity-focused Breakthrough Series.

The Breakthrough Series, established in 2008, is a program that focuses on developing players on and off the field through seminars, mentorships, gameplay, instruction and more. It is a joint effort between USA Baseball and Major League Baseball, and the events are completely cost-free.

The first Breakthrough Series event of 2019, this weekend’s development experience started on Friday and ends on Sunday. The Miami event is part of a series of similar camps through the months of June and July.

“It’s a wonderful program,” Hill said. “It’s an opportunity for MLB to service the underserved, to service the kids who don’t have access to this, who aren’t going to pay thousands of dollars on the showcase circuit, but [they] get Major League instruction from Major League players and get exposure to Major League front offices.”

This weekend's event was a development camp and scouting showcase, where rising juniors and seniors of diverse backgrounds representing 17 states and Puerto Rico learned from former Major League players and coaches at the Jackie Robinson Training Complex in Vero Beach, Fla.

MLB executives Tony Reagins and Del Matthews help run the program, and this year featured instructors such as Tom “Flash” Gordon, Pat Mahomes, Jerry Manuel and more.

“We all need mentors. We all need people who can share their experiences, just to give them every opportunity to be successful,” Hill said.

Professional scouts and collegiate recruiters were invited to watch the participants, who all received special invitations because of recommendations from MLB, USA Baseball, MLB Youth Academies and more.

In addition to being trained by former professionals, practicing and playing games every day as a part of the series, the players attended a meet and greet with Hill before going to the Braves-Marlins game.

The presence of Jeter, though, captured the most attention.

“I was really nervous. He’s been my favorite player since I was a kid,” said participant and fellow shortstop Chris Moore. “Watching him on TV, and in the stands all the time, just getting to talk to him was really nerve-wracking. And really exciting because he’s played the game for 20 years, 3,000 hits, and just to get personal input from a guy that played that long is really good for me and my baseball development.”

Jeter and Hill talked to the group about their future before they went onto the field to watch batting practice. They did a question and answer session with the high schoolers, with Moore being called on to ask the first question after he raised his hand when asked who in the group was a shortstop.

“I asked him about the mental part of the game, about failing,” Moore said. “[Jeter] said, ‘You’re going to fail 70 percent of the time in the game. Just reflect on your successful moments.’ And I think that’s going to help me in the future.”

Hill talked to the young players about how the Marlins have drafted alumni from the program before, including Nasim Nunez, whom they took in the second round of the 2019 MLB Draft. He emphasized that baseball careers eventually come to an end and that baseball and life are all about adjusting. He reminded the group to “control what you can control,” such as their attitude, energy, enthusiasm and mindset.

Jeter gave tips to the group about playing baseball and talked about the importance of taking advantage of the opportunities they have.

“You guys are given a platform to not only develop as players but to develop as people,” Jeter said. “You’re not only drafting players and looking for players that have tools, you’re looking for good people. Developing that character off the field is just as important as how you perform on the field.”