To see all the opportunities taking place for youth through the Texas Rangers MLB Youth Academy at Mercy Street Sports Complex, Presented by Toyota, look no further than a few of the highlights from 2019, as ranked by the Academy’s followers on Twitter (@RangersYA) and Instagram (@rangersya).
Academy staff chose nine top player moments and accomplishments from 2019, then shared them on social media last week. Below are the Top 5 moments in order, as determined by combining the likes and comments from each photo’s Tweet and Instagram post by the end of the day Wednesday, January 15.
#1 Marco Garcia Wong’s Made-for-TV Catch
Texas Rangers Youth Academy teams traveled to Cleveland in July to participate in the Commissioner’s Cup Tournament and Jennie Finch Classis as part of MLB’s All-Star festivities.
The experience included a trip to the T-Mobile Homer Run Derby, where Marco Garcia Wong snagged an appearance on ESPN’s SportsCenter after catching one of Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s home runs.
#2 Rangers Academy RBI Softball Makes History
The Rangers Youth Academy RBI All-Star team made program history at the RBI Southwest Regionals in July when they secured the first win in program history.
On July 19, they opened the tournament with an 8-3 win over RBI Austin. Game two was a 5-4 victory over NOLA RBI, landing them a spot in the Championship Contest.
The significance was not lost on third baseman and catcher Natalia Cantu and her teammates.
“We made history! We won the first game ever. We beat New Orleans, which is one of our rivals that we’ve been trying to beat for the longest, and then we also made it to the championship. It was just amazing to see everybody go and work hard and make all these amazing plays. To have that moment with all my sisters and have all that joy, it was just amazing. I have no words,” Cantu said.
#3 Catching with Pudge
Texas Rangers Hall of Fame catcher Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez made a special appearance at the facility in June to surprise baseball and softball catchers who participate in Academy programming.
They heard from the Hall of Famer in a Q&A session, participated in drills, and received photos and autographs.
#4 Inaugural MLB Grit Tournament
Three girls from the Academy participated in the first ever MLB Grit High School Girls Baseball Invitational in March, which was also held at the Academy and Globe Life Park.
Dallas natives and Academy participants Tatyana Beltran (Life Waxahachie), Alicia Gonzalez (Sunset High School), and Ximena Zamarron (Hillcrest High School) competed in the weekend’s events, which featured high school baseball players from 21 states, Washington D.C., Canada, and Puerto Rico, including players who competed with Team USA, Canada, and Puerto Rico in the Women’s Baseball World Cup in August 2018.
“This is important to get everybody to open their eyes and see that women and girls are playing baseball, too, not just men,” Zamarron said of the invitational at the time.
#5 First Academy Signing Day
Joshua Marcellus hosted his signing day festivities at the Academy in November, becoming the first Academy participant to host his signing day at the facility.
With his parents and younger brother looking on, along with Academy staff and Rangers outfielder Willie Calhoun, Marcellus signed his National Letter of Intent to play baseball at Bethany College.
Marcellus still has one more season of participating at the Academy before he’ll be playing for the Bethany Swedes.
The Sachse High School senior has played in the Rangers Academy RBI league in 2018 and 2019, earning spots on the Rangers Youth Academy RBI All-Star teams competing in the RBI Southwest Regionals in Austin both seasons.
Texas Rangers Coaches Clinic
Texas Rangers Manager Chris Woodward and members of his Major League coaching staff will be at the Academy on Saturday, January 25 to host the annual Texas Rangers Coaches Clinic.
The clinic is free and targeted to coaches of all ages and skill levels. Registration is available at https://www.mlb.com/rangers/forms/tex-coaches-clinic.
Winter Academy Training Program
The Winter Academy Training Program is underway. Programming runs through February 27.
Monday and Wednesday sessions will be for 18U baseball and softball players. Tuesday and Thursday sessions will be for 12U baseball and softball players. All sessions run from 6:30-9:00 p.m.
Registration is available at texasrangers.com/academy.