Academy Notebook: Academy softball players head to Elite Development Invitational

July 12th, 2019

When Samantha Rodriguez received a congratulations text from her softball coach earlier this spring, she wasn’t sure what she’d done to earn the message. But a call to her mom revealed that it was because Rodriguez had been selected to participate in the Elite Development Invitational.

“I was so excited because I heard not a lot of people got chosen,” Rodriguez said. “It’s an honor.”

Rodriguez will represent the Texas Rangers MLB Youth Academy at Mercy Street Sports Complex, Presented by Toyota, at the five-day camp in Vero Beach, Florida beginning today, Friday, July 12 through July 16. 

The incoming junior from Townview High School will be joined by fellow Academy participants Destiny Castillo (2024, Reed Middle School) and Miranda Lopez (2022, Woodrow Wilson High School) for the intense program that mirrors training camps for the USA Softball Women's National team.

It’s an experience that Rodriguez, who dreams of playing collegiately at Texas A & M, is eagerly anticipating.

“Working with the softball players, just getting that opportunity. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Not everyone gets to do that,” Rodriguez said. (Video of Rodriguez discussing EDI and her time at the Academy is available here:

It will be the first such development opportunity for the catcher and shortstop, who has also played on the Rangers Youth Academy team at the Jennie Finch Classic as part of All-Star festivities the past two seasons. 

“They have a lot of opportunities for us to achieve our goals and get better,” Rodriguez said of the Academy. “It has helped me tremendously. Not only just on the field, but also outside of the field.”

EDI isn’t the only summer showcase event this summer with representation from the Academy. 

Ricky Rangel (2020, Duncanville high school) and Joshua Marcellus (2020, Sachse High School) participated in the 2019 Baseball Breakthrough Series at the Compton Youth Academy in Compton, Calif. from June 21 through June 23. 

Colin Moore (2024 grade, Rogers Middle School) and Austin Philips (2024, Young Men’s Leadership Academy) have been invited to the re-branded Hank Aaron Invitational, formerly known as the Elite Development Invitational from July 21 to 25 in Vero Beach, Florida. 

Marco Garcia Wong (2020, North Dallas High School) will travel to the Hank Aaron Invitational in Vero Beach, Florida from July 27 through August 2. 

Melanie Henderson-Lopez (2020, Irving High School) and Erin Ledesma (2020, Irma Rangel Young Women’s Leadership School) represented the Rangers at the Softball Breakthrough Series at the Kansas City Royals Youth Academy from May 23 to 27.

And Tatyana Beltran, who plays baseball in the Academy’s RBI League, participated in the second annual Girls Baseball Breakthrough Series at the Jackie Robinson Training Complex in Vero Beach, Florida, from June 14 through June 18. 

MLBPAA Baseball Clinic

Former Major League Baseball players will be on hand to provide instruction and feedback to youth baseball players as part of the MLBPAA Baseball Clinic at the Academy tomorrow, Saturday, July 13. 

Activities will take place from 9:00 a.m. until 12:00 p.m. on Oates Field and in the Academy classrooms. 

**Joey Gallo’s Academy Athletes of the Month **

June and July winners of the Joey Gallo’s Academy Athletes of the Month award will be honored tomorrow, Saturday, July 13, at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Enrique Ojeda, Kathleen Gutierrez, Christian Ugalde, and Charity Speed will attend batting practice, meet Rangers outfielder Joey Gallo, and be honored on the field prior to the 7:05 p.m. game against the Houston Astros.

Ojeda (10, Eduardo Mata Elementary) finished first in the 9/10 year old division of the team Pitch, Hit, and Run Championship at Globe Life Park on June 8.

At just 12 years old, Gutierrez (Dallas Environmental Science Academy) displayed exceptional talent that helped her advance to one of the 18U softball teams in the Rangers Academy programming.

Ugalde (11, Elliot Elementary) is a member of the Academy’s 12U Baseball Tournament Team that has competed twice at the Youth Ballpark in Arlington.

Speed (11, A.W. Brown) is a frequent participant of summer workouts in the Academy’s 12U softball division.

Each month from May through August, Academy coaches are selecting one female 12U participant and one male 12U participant who stood out, demonstrating great sportsmanship and character. The Joey Gallo Academy Athletes of the Month will meet Gallo during batting practice and receive a Joey Gallo Academy Athlete t-shirt and an autographed baseball.

RBI Honors

The 2019 Texas Rangers Youth Academy RBI Summer League wrapped earlier this month with the season-ending Rangers RBI Wood Bat Tournament presented by NIKE. Tournament champions will be honored at Globe Life Park in Arlington on Sunday, July 14. The Vikings won the Senior Division, while the Chiefs won the Junior Division and Alliance took home Softball Division honors.

Sunday’s festivities at Globe Life Park will also include a pre-game parade by RBI athletes and their families from the Academy.

And RBI Scholarship recipients Natalia Cantu (2019, Bishop Dunn) and Madison Powell (2019, Nimitz) will be honored on the field prior to the game. Both will receive $2,500 for their college education.

Powell will attend Cedar Valley Community College and Cantu will attend Mountain View College this fall.

All-Star Recap

Teams from the Academy traveled to Cleveland, Ohio, from July 5 through July 8 to participate in the second annual Commissioner’s Cup and Jennie Finch Classic as part of the All-Star activities. In addition to playing in the competitive tournaments, the teams attended the T-Mobile Home Run Derby on Monday and participated in activities at the PLAY BALL Park. 

The Texas Rangers Academy softball team in the Jennie Finch Classic went 2-2 on the weekend. Ximena Zamarron (2022, Hillcrest High School) turned in a series of highlight reel defensive plays, while Melanie Henderson (2020, Irving High School) led the offense.

The team in the Commissioner’s Cup earned its lone win of the weekend in their second game Saturday, July 6 defeating Cleveland 3-2 behind a complete game effort by RHP Julian Olivo (2020, Pinkston High School). Matthew DeLeon’s (2021, Skyline High School) defense was on display, as he laid out for a diving catch and made plays in both the infield and outfield.

RBI Southwest Regionals Coming Soon

Practices are underway for the RBI-All Star squads that will represent the Academy at the RBI Southwest regionals in Austin from July 18 through 21.

Summer Camps

Session B of the Academy’s Summer Training Program begins July 23 and runs through August 16.

Programming is Tuesday through Friday mornings from 9:30 a.m. until 12:00 p.m.

Registration is available at