Danny Diaz didn’t seem the least bit fazed by the news that the University of Maine’s Mahaney Diamond remains encrusted in ice and snow during the last week of March.
“I’m not too worried about it,” said the third baseman who has enjoyed the luxury of playing baseball year-round in sunny Miami. He simply wants to continue his career at the Division I level.
Toward that end, Diaz has verbally committed to attend UMaine and play for coach Steve Trimper’s Black Bears starting in the fall.
“I was looking for a school, and Maine gave me the opportunity to play for them, and I’ve heard many things from that school, so I’m just excited to go up there and play some ball,” Diaz said.
Diaz is one of at least two players from Columbus High School in Miami who plan to play at UMaine next season. First baseman Christian Garabedian signed a National Letter of Intent with the program last fall.
“I’m actually rooming with him, so it’s going to be fun,” Diaz said.
Diaz is a 5-foot-10, 185-pounder who packs a punch. Through 16 games, he was batting .407 with three home runs, eight doubles and 18 runs batted in while playing in Miami-Dade’s highest division (8A).
“You definitely would have to classify him as a power hitter,” said 19th-year Columbus High Explorers coach Joe Weber. “He’s got a good glove at third, above-average arm, but his main thing is hitting. He has extreme power to all fields.”
Trimper is prohibited by NCAA rules from discussing a prospect until the school has received a signed National Letter of Intent.
UMaine’s Columbus High/Miami connection began in 2005 with the arrival of infielder Danny Menendez and pitchers Alejandro Balsinde and Jose Mendoza. Trimper previously had established a relationship with Weber when he recruited Explorers to play at Manhattan College.
Mendoza serves as a pitching coach for the prestigious Columbus program, which perennially produces college players. This season, at least eight players will move on to college, including five or six at the Division I level.
“Ryan Alvarez, our right fielder, is going to Miami, and our catcher, Nelson Mompierre, is going to FIU [Florida International],” Diaz explained.
Last season, eight Explorers signed to play Division I baseball, Weber said.
Weber said his players will have an advantage over many northern competitors, since they play as many as 50 games during the summer and 30 in the fall in addition to the 25-game high school schedule.
Another selling point for UMaine among Columbus players is the fact the Black Bears play numerous games in Florida each March, which will enable family and friends to see more games than if they were playing Division I ball outside the state.