In June 2021, a “little corner” of a vacant lot in the vicinity of the Hipódromo V Centennial became a It was at the birth of a project that is closely related to what for life has been the least outstanding position for Dominicans in the Major Leagues: Catching.
A close friend became a friend. He became the counselor and Hansel Francisco Fermín, a former catcher, who assimilated him as a former catcher. and he opened it, without resources or personnel, only with the integrity and willingness to push forward a unique idea for baseball: A program only specialized to train and develop receivers. < /p>
Ronald Melo was the first to inaugurate the experiment, two unstitched balls, with fringes in the air, were the first tools he had in his hands, but protected by the Almighty challenged the obstacles that might arise ahead and began to work. “nails and teeth” to try to make the fledgling program a reality.
This first young man registered You will make incredible progress in a very short time. “We began to make their videos for them, we promoted them through the various networks and out there. “We began to make ourselves known, thinking that in the near or distant future, the plan would gradually take shape,” says Fermín.
This first arrival at the “complex”, they are well advanced in their profession, in January he plans to travel to the United States to continue his baseball training and begin his university studies.
As the months went by, a good group of young people joined us, who came to us from different points, to the point that after about four months that space in which “We started and it was too small for us,” he recounts.
The third one that arrived When he joined the program, Sandro Gastón agreed to join the program. He was with the Astros last year. And this year he played the game. in the Dominican Summer League, concluded his with an average of .319 (141-for-45) with 12 homers, 14 doubles and 37 RBIs.
“Gast It was a blessing, I had been going through different programs for three years and I hadn't achieved anything,” says the instructor, who remembers that when he met him, training in the batting machine, experimented in the lobby and the gardens.
“ I started training as a catcher, we only had 21 practices and then from there it was over. participated in in five events, he had two offers and we kept the one provided by the Astros, 10 thousand dollars, since he was already 18 years old,” are his own words.
Three months it took him to This led Gastón to sign and with him came the changes, young people began to arrive, one after the other and today, more than 50 receivers have passed through the program called Team Elevate, the most of them are in the process of development and others have embraced universities.
But, the big package of signatures is expected for the years to come, as Fermín and his team of coaches already have young people ready for the signatures on January 15 and the coming years. Currently, the program is in one of the Air Force stadiums and thanks Colonel Arias Durán, Director of Sports of the institution, for his kindness.
Hansel has magnificent advisory services, two former sound receivers, Sandy Martínez, who played in the second round. for eight years in the big top and the recently retired Wellington Castillo, who even two of his sons perform pininos as catchers. With only a year and a half through his hands, receivers from Puerto Rico, Curaçao, & nbsp; Venezuela, Italy, Mexico, Colombia, Canada, many of these young people have received scholarships to continue their careers in the United States.
“Since I was young, I always wanted to do something unique and in the different programs that I visited at the time when I was looking to sign for professionalism, I noticed that I was interested. the shortage that existed for training catchers,” he told Listín Diario.
“Since I was young I always wanted to do something It was unique and in the different programs that I visited in my time when I was looking to sign for the professionalism I noticed that I was different. “The shortage that existed for catcher training,” he says.
Before formally starting his school, one of his first students had It was Kevin Batista, who at that time needed to do a great job with him and the changes were not only noticed, but also gave him a chance. More confidence to dedicate himself to educating young people.
He had been signed by the Mets in 2016, released a year later, he has a great challenge, that of providing a consistent catching pool for the Dominican.