Hearn surprises Cox with Texas' youth award

December 29th, 2020

It was supposed to be a conversation about the baseball recruiting process and the next steps to take his game to the collegiate level.

At least that’s what Kevin Daniel Cox, a participant at the Texas Rangers MLB Youth Academy at Mercy Street Sports Complex, presented by Toyota, was expecting when he logged on for a video call with Academy director Juan Leonel Garciga on Monday night.

That’s what Garciga told Cox’s mom in order to schedule the meeting, but there was more on deck.

Rangers pitcher Taylor Hearn joined the virtual meeting to tell Cox he’d been selected as the Texas Rangers Youth Academy Youth of the Year.

“Daniel, I’ve heard a lot of good things about you," Hearn told a surprised Cox and his mom. "You’ve put a lot of work in at the Youth Academy. With COVID and everything, I know it’s been crazy. But I just wanted to just congratulate you on becoming the Texas Rangers Youth Academy Youth of the Year. All your hard work has paid off. You keep working like that, you’re going to be in the same position that I’m in."

Normally, a Youth of the Year is chosen from each of the eight MLB Youth Academies, and honorees are rewarded with a trip to the World Series.

While that was not feasible in 2020, the Rangers didn’t want to let the year pass without honoring an athlete who has been the ultimate hard worker and team player throughout the season.

Cox will take home a baseball autographed by Hearn and a Rangers jersey, in addition to tickets for a 2021 game at Globe Life Field.

“It’s amazing. I’m speechless," Cox said after receiving the news. "There’s a lot of competition there and I’m just thankful to be chosen. Hard work pays off."

The third baseman and pitcher played in the Academy’s RBI Baseball league over the summer, earning a spot on the All-Star team that played at Globe Life Field in August. And he was on track to represent the Academy at MLB’s annual Breakthrough Series before that was canceled due to the pandemic.

“I’ve had an opportunity to watch Daniel grow from when he first came out here, and it’s been really cool to see how much hard work he’s put in and how much it’s impacted his game,” Garciga said. “He’s put in the work to make himself a solid third baseman who’s a complete hitter.

“He’s been a great teammate on all the teams he’s played on, has a great, quiet leadership quality, letting his actions do the talking. He really embodies what it means to be the Youth of the Year."

A senior at Skyline High School in Dallas, Cox’s lifelong love for the game is still motivating him as he looks for a college where he can continue his education and baseball career.

“It’s just my life. I’ve been playing it since I was 5 years old,” Cox said. “I’ve loved baseball ever since I was little.”

After sharing the good news with Cox on Monday night, the Academy made the official Youth of the Year announcement Tuesday via its social media channels.