The Florida Memorial University Lions (Miami Gardens, FL), who went 18-70 over the past two seasons, are 17-9 as of the day this was published, with a series sweep of Warner. They are the top-ranked team in the Black College Nine’s small school poll. They are going into a Sun Conference series at Ave Maria (Paywalled streaming video).
Their Coach is Tino Burgos, who is in his second season. He played college ball at Florida International, and coached at Hialeah Gardens Senior High School for eight years.
The player that is turning heads for the Lions is DH Sergio Chil, who came to Florida Memorial from Havana via ASA College in Miami. A junior, he is batting .488.
Chil’s relocation to Miami was facilitated by Rangers scout Jose Rafael Fernandez, who is a good friend of Chil’s father. Prior to going to ASA College, he was a student at Mártires de Barbados, a school in Havana for high performance athletes. He describes his training there as “strong and intense”. During his first season at ASA College, he batted .450. This season, he has done a lot of work in the batting cage with hitting coach Yunieski Gurriel, learning to let the pitches come to him and hit more to right field. He says that he gets a lot of positive energy from Coach Burgos.
Chil’s supporting cast includes:
OF Argenis Hernandez, batting .393. A junior from Miami. He’s 5’11”, but Coach Burgos describes him as “strong, and a good contact guy”.
OF Chris Clara, batting .386. A sophomore from Hialeah Gardens, FL. His father is Cuban. Burgos brought him along when he went from Hialeah Gardens Senior High to Florida Memorial.
RHP Edgar Aparicio, 3-0, 2.02 ERA, 43 strikeouts. A sophomore from Miami, grew up in Venezuela. Coach Burgos: “One of better arms in Dade County. Lights out. He could end up playing pro ball.” He’s 6’2″, 290 lb., but very athletic.
RHP Carlos Alcon, 3-2, 3.35 ERA, 33 strikeouts. A freshman from Miami. Coach Burgos: “Another true lights out pitcher. He’s made just a couple of mistakes.”
RHP Christian Rivera, 4-1, 3.60 ERA, 40 strikeouts. A sophomore from Juan Diez, Puerto Rico. Coach Burgos: “A steal for us. We got him because of a family connection. He could pitch in Division I. He’s very focused.”
The team has two other Cubans (freshman LHP Deivis Jacomino and 3B Axel Gomez), three other Puerto Ricans, and Kyle Parks, who is from the Bahamas.
After the Ave Maria series, The Lions have some more tough Sun Conference opponents: Saint Thomas, Keiser, and Southeastern. Burgos describes Keiser as “always going”. Florida Memorial vs. Saint Thomas is one of the closest cross-town rivalry you’ll find anywhere; the two campuses are eight blocks apart.
Bob Broughton is a freelance writer whose blog, Courtesy Runner provides independent coverage of NAIA baseball.