Science of Baseball Summer Camp concludes; Aden Howard competes in Hank Aaron Invitational Showcase Game; Former athletes return as coaches

August 5th, 2022

Science of Baseball program concludes with presentations at Globe Life Field

The three-week Science of Baseball summer program, presented by Nike, has officially concluded. Kids ages 8-11 spent the summer learning about science, technology, engineering and math and the role it plays in baseball and everyday life.

Over the course of the program, participants learned various lessons about STEM through classroom work and hands-on experiments at the Texas Rangers Youth Academy.

The course ended on Monday, Aug. 1, when the students presented their projects on the main concourse at Globe Life Field before the Rangers-Orioles game. Participants presented on experiments conducted throughout the program including the importance of hydration, engineering and design of baseballs and baseball cleats, various trajectories of a home run, pop fly, ground ball and more.

After their presentations, the youngsters and their families stayed to watch the game, witnessing first-hand how elements of STEM can impact a Major League Baseball game.

Aden Howard among top 44 Athletes at Hank Aaron Invitational selected to compete in showcase

Texas Rangers Youth Academy athletes Aaron Grant, Amaad Garrett, David Hogg II and Aden Howard were each invited to participate in the MLB Develops Hank Aaron Invitational (HAI) in July.

Created by Major League Baseball, the Major League Baseball Players Association and USA Baseball, the annual Hank Aaron Invitational serves as a youth-oriented, on-field diversity initiative that aims to get high school-age players to the next level of the game.

Grant, Garrett, Hogg and Howard were among the 250 best ball players from across the country invited to Vero Beach to participate in elite-level training and competitive games.

At the conclusion of the clinic, the top 44 athletes in the class of 2023 and 2024 participate in the Hank Aaron Invitational Showcase Game at Truist Park in Atlanta. Rangers Youth Academy athlete and Dallas Baptist University commit Aden Howard was named to the 2022 showcase game roster.

Before competing in the HAI Showcase Game, Howard finished his week of training with some of baseball’s best coaches and former big-league ball players, picking up pointers on and off the field.

“The thing that stood out to me the most while I was there was the base running training,” said Howard. “Often times coaches overlook that aspect of the game, though it is one of the most important and can win many games for a team. That is definitely a part of my game.”

The outfielder proved his skill on the diamond, earning his chance to compete at the home of the Atlanta Braves on Sunday, July 31, for the nationally televised prime-time game on MLB Network.

“It was a huge honor to be selected,” he said. “I have always dreamed of playing on national television, and this is only the start. It was also great to see and observe how life would be as a major leaguer.

“It was just so cool to participate in [the Hank Aaron Invitational Showcase Game] because I may never be a part of a game where there are that many minorities playing on the same field. The level of play was very competitive.”

Howard represented Team Aaron in the outfield during the seven-inning game, but his team eventually lost, 8-3, to Team Robinson.

Former academy athletes return with new responsibility

The Texas Rangers Youth Academy hosted its final training sessions of the summer this week. Hundreds of kids ages 7-18 received instruction on how to improve their baseball and softball skills during the multi-week programming session.

This year, for the first time in Rangers Youth Academy history, six former Academy athletes joined the summer baseball and softball coaching staff. Kevin Daniel Cox, Kylie Cox, Matthew De Leon, Erin Ledesma, Josh Marcellus and Gabi Quintanilla spent their summer break coaching the next generation of young athletes.

Long-time friends and former teammates Erin Ledesma and Gabi Quintanilla are using their college softball skills to develop and inspire the next generation of young girls.

Quintanilla shared that when she attended the Academy as an athlete, it was an outlet where she could get away from everyday life and dedicate time to the game she loves. Now, she’s using her experience and success to give back to young girls in the area and help them fall in love with softball.

Similarly, Ledesma is looking to become an inspiration to the young athletes she is now coaching by showing college softball is a possibility and that the sport is still growing. As a former Academy athlete, the connection she formed with her coaches were some of her favorite memories, and in this new position, she can be that role model and propel the next generation to success.

Rangers Youth Academy Youth of the Year award winners Kylie Cox and Kevin Daniel Cox also returned to the Academy in new leadership roles this summer.

Very early into her tenure with the Youth Academy, Kylie recalled saying to her former coaches that one day she would return as a coach— a promise she did indeed keep. As an elite-level high school softball star turned college athlete, Cox had experience advising her peers growing up and was always drawn to the idea of positively impacting someone’s play. She resonated with the fact that the Academy is available to everyone and now she can play a role in shaping future softball stars.

Kevin Daniel shared a similar desire to join the Academy coaching staff, stepping off the field as a college baseball player for the summer and experiencing the coaching role. Working with the younger 12U and 9U kids has its challenges, but for Cox, it is an exciting opportunity to mold kids into elite baseball stars from the very beginning.

Matthew De Leon and Josh Marcellus have some experience teaching young athletes but stepped up to the challenge this summer, holding even more responsibility.

De Leon’s first and favorite coach, his father, inspired a bond and trust between coach and athlete that he hopes to continue with his future players. This year he coached a team alongside his father and was able to train some of those same athletes during the Rangers Youth Academy summer programing. De Leon aspires to help every athlete that walks through the Youth Academy doors get better at the game and discover a passion for baseball.

The connection Marcellus made with his Youth Academy coaches and the top-level instruction he received were reasons he wanted to return this summer. Lessons he learned, like how to play baseball the right way and off-field lessons on how to handle adversity and be a good teammate, are all things Marcellus has carried with him into collegiate ball that he can now share as a coach.

This summer was an exciting first for the Texas Rangers Youth Academy, and as it continues to cultivate talent and expand its reach, in the coming years, more and more former athletes will look to seize the opportunity to change the game through coaching.