As the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of high school spring sports, local seniors were faced with an abrupt ending to their high school careers. A group of these students were also athletes at the Texas Rangers MLB Youth Academy at Mercy Street Sports Complex, Presented by Toyota. This Rangers Academy Senior Spotlight series seeks to highlight those athletes who have worked on their craft at the Academy as they move into the next chapter in their lives.
Sebastian Hernandez, Townview Magnet School
Sebastian Hernandez didn’t always picture himself pursuing higher education.
But playing in the inaugural Commissioner’s Cup Classic in Washington, D.C., as part of the 2018 All-Star Game festivities, changed his perspective.
The pitcher was named to the team representing the Rangers MLB Youth Academy in the tournament. In addition to playing in the games and participating in All-Star festivities, the athletes toured the nation’s capital and slept in dorms at nearby universities.
“Staying at Gallaudet University in Washington gave me the opportunity to picture myself attending college. That experience motivated me to continue my education,” Hernandez said.
The May graduate of Townview Magnet School will head to the University of Texas at Arlington to study landscape architecture in the fall.
“My goal is to get my college degree in landscape architecture and to eventually open up my own landscaping business,” Hernandez said.
Hernandez has also set his sights on trying out for the UTA baseball team, and he has been spending a couple hours each day practicing at home.
It would be a chance to redeem some of what was lost when his senior season was abruptly cut short due to COVID-19.
“It was horrible,” Hernandez said of the way his high school career ended. “I was looking forward to my senior year. I had to accept the fact that this situation is something out of anyone's control and just make the best out of it.”
Hernandez’s baseball journey brought him to the Academy for RBI leagues. He also called Oates Field home while playing for Pinkston High School during his sophomore year.
While it was an advantage to be familiar with the field, Hernandez also considered it a responsibility to maintain the facility for future athletes.
“It was definitely an advantage to be able to practice at the Rangers Academy,” Hernandez said.
“Practicing with my high school team at the Academy was very convenient for me, because back then I didn't drive. I would catch the school bus to Pinkston to go to practice with my team. I would then just walk over to the main building to attend other events at the Academy such as training, educational classes or practice,” Hernandez added.
Edward Taylor, an RBI coach at the facility, has seen Hernandez's love for the game firsthand.
“He is a talented player with one of the best attitudes I’ve ever had the pleasure to coach. He’s a very hard worker who loves to practice and is very coachable,” Taylor said. “I would love to coach a team full of athletes just like him.”
Hernandez is ready to take the lessons he’s learned from baseball into the next chapter of his life.
“Baseball has thought me discipline, responsibility, and most importantly, to never give up -- even during difficult times, never quit,” Hernandez said.