Robin Adames took charge from the start of this senior year.
The James Monroe senior asked baseball coach Mike Turo if he could return to his natural position of catcher from third base for his final season. He played there growing up and plans on making the position he wants to play the rest of his career. Adames also felt it was a way to have a greater impact on Monroe’s games day in and day out.
“I always enjoyed catching,” he said. “Third base is not always in the game. A catcher is basically controlling the game. It is something I want to do as a captain, control the team.”
Turo approved of the moved, but told him he still had some work to do. In his coach’s eyes he had played catcher, but still needed to learn the finer points of the position. Adames worked with a catching instructor and has looked superb behind the plate early, displaying a strong an accurate arm. When you combine that will hit acumen at the plate, there is the potential for Adames to be one of the city’s best all around players.
“Everyone knew who he was before,” Turo said. “Now behind the plate it is opening up a lot more eyes.”
Adames, who is committed to Lamar University, is part of a strong core to a team that would like to do that same. Smoothing hitting senior Joel Paulino moves from second base to third to fill in for Adames. Sophomore Jason Pineda will hit fifth behind those two and play first base.
The guys around them however may be what sets this Monroe team apart from the club that lost in the quarterfinals as the No. 1-seed last year. The Eagles have more speed now. It will allow them to create runs instead of relying heavily on a powerful middle of the order.
“Once they get on base I feel like they are automatic runs as long as we do the little things,” Adames said.
Shortstop Danny Camilo leads off and second baseman Giovany Henriquez bats second. Speedy sophomore centerfielder Henry Heredia and right fielder Eddy Gonzales bring similar speed to the eight and nine holes. Frankel Pilier and Jeffery Acevedo round out the lineup.
Turo is confident in his pitching staff as well, despite not seeing it at full strength yet. Senior Matthew Pinero made his first start of the season and threw five shutout innings a win over Newtown in the Monroe Tournament semifinals. Junior Yohn Zapata has been strong early on and ace Francisco Justo was recently cleared to play after a suffering appendicitis. Paulino is also a viable option on the mound.
Monroe lost its first game of the season, 1-0, in eight innings to fellow city power George Washington in the tournament final. It gave Turo a sense of how they will fare against stiffer competition.
“I have three guys that are very very good,” he said. “They have to now prove it against the better teams,
In his mind the teams ultimate success with come down to that. Monroe is trying to shake off three straight quarterfinal defeats and return the PSAL Class AA title back home to The Bronx.