Practice is underway at the Texas Rangers MLB Youth Academy at Mercy Street Sports Complex, Presented by Toyota, for the teams that will represent the Rangers Academy at the Jennie Finch Classic and Commissioner’s Cup tournaments in Cleveland, Ohio as part of the All-Star Game festivities, Friday, July 5 through Monday, July 8.
Felicity Rodriguez is among those on the field preparing for the opportunity.
“I'm very grateful to have been chosen for this tournament and I'm looking forward to not only playing with very talented girls, but also against them,” Rodriguez said.
While Rodriguez has played in the Rangers Academy RBI League, as well as camps and clinics, it will be her first time participating in the Jennie Finch Classic. The outfielder has heard good reviews about the event from some of her teammates who were on the Academy’s team that traveled to Washington, D.C., for the inaugural Jennie Finch Classic last year, though.
“Many of the girls who went last year have told me it's an amazing experience,” Rodriguez said.
The competitive softball tournament will feature 10 teams of youth softball players (ages 17 and under) from MLB Youth Academies and Jennie Finch programming. Games will be played at Berea-Midpark High School and Baldwin Wallace University, which will lodge the players. The championship game will be held at Mather Park at Case Western University.
Ahead of her senior year at Townview High School, Rodriguez is looking to make sure she and her teammates have fun and stay motivated.
“No matter the score is we go out there and do our job. If we're down by some runs, I want my team persevere and keep fighting because only we can change the outcome of the game.”
The roster for the Academy’s team in the Jennie Finch Classic is below. The roster for the Academy’s team in the Commissioner’s Cup will be released next week.
Hall of Fame catching
Texas Rangers Hall of Fame Catcher Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez stopped by the Academy on Friday, June 21, for a one-of-a-kind opportunity.
Approximately 20 baseball and softball catchers who participate in Academy programming heard from the Hall of Famer in a Q&A session, participated in drills, and received photos and autographs.
“Ivan Rodriguez is a generational player that, for our kids, their parents, and even their grandparents, it’s a big deal for him to be around,” Texas Rangers Director Youth Academy & Youth Baseball/Softball Program Juan Leonel Garciga said.
“What was exciting for us as coaches was how eager our players were to show him what they could do behind the plate as opposed to just wanting to take a photo or ask for an autograph. The kids wanted to work and get better, and who better to help them than arguably the greatest catcher of all time.”
In the 2019 Draft, 32 players selected had participated in either an Elite Development Invitational, Breakthrough Series or Dream Series event, all joint initiatives of MLB and USA Baseball.
This summer, several Academy baseball players are taking their turn in those opportunities.
Ricky Rangel (2020, Duncanville High School) and Joshua Marcellus (2020, Sachse High School) represented the Academy at the 2019 Baseball Breakthrough Series at the Compton Youth Academy in Compton, California, from June 21-June 23.
Established in 2008, the Breakthrough Series is a joint effort of USA Baseball and MLB, focusing on developing players on and off the field.
Colin Moore (2024 grade, Rogers Middle School) and Austin Philips (2024, Young Men’s Leadership Academy) have been invited to participate in the re-branded Hank Aaron Invitational, formerly known as the Elite Development Invitational. The unique amateur development event is a youth-oriented, on-field diversity initiative aiming to help high school-age players from diverse backgrounds to the next levels of the game. It will take place July 21-25 in Vero Beach, Florida.
Marco Garcia Wong (2020, North Dallas High School) was invited to participate in the Hank Aaron Invitational in Vero Beach, Florida from July 27-Aug. 2.
On the softball side, Destiny Castillo (2024, Reed Middle School), Miranda Lopez (2022, Woodrow Wilson High School), and Samantha Rodriguez (2021, Townview High School) were selected for the Elite Development Invitational, which will be held July 12-16 in Vero Beach, Florida. EDI is a five-day camp serving as an extended version of the Breakthrough Series. The intense program mirrors the USA Softball Women's National team's training camps.
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 23-27.
And Tatyana Beltran, who plays baseball in the Academy’s RBI League, participated in thesecond annual Girls Baseball Breakthrough Series at the Jackie Robinson Training Complex in Vero Beach, Florida, from June 14-18.
The 2019 Texas Rangers Youth Academy RBI Summer League season is in the books, with only the final games of the season-ending Rangers RBI Wood Bat Tournament presented by NIKE remaining.
The schedule and results of the wood bat tournament are listed below. The championship game will be played tonight, Friday, June 28.
The Rangers RBI Softball Tournament presented by NIKE concluded Wednesday, June 26, with Alliance picking up an 8-1 win over the Cougars for the championship. The results for the single elimination tournament are below:
The Rangers RBI Wood Bat Tournament presented by NIKE opened Monday, June 24, for the junior division. The semifinal round begins Saturday, June 29. The schedule and results for the single elimination tournament are below:
Tryouts are currently underway for RBI All-Stars who will travel to Austin to compete in the RBI Southwest Regionals from July 18-21.
Session A of the Academy’s Summer Training Program wraps up today, Friday June 28.
Session B will run from July 23-Aug. 16.
Programming is Tuesday through Friday mornings from 9:30 a.m.-12 p.m.
Registration is available at https://texasrangersya.leagueapps.com/camps.