Coming into the season, perhaps the biggest debate on the Hurricanes baseball team was which player would emerge as the starting catcher.
Erick San Pedro has answered that question by giving the ‘Canes stability at baseball’s toughest position. San Pedro enters this weekend batting .367 at the plate with three home runs and 22 RBIs. Head coach Jim Morris points to San Pedro’s hitting as something that has kept him as Miami’s primary catcher.
“It’s been a battle all year for the starting catcher’s spot,” Morris said. “Both of them (Eric and Greg) have done well, but it was a close match, and still is. They have different abilities but both of them are very gifted catchers.”
San Pedro’s average ranks third on the team, showing the strides he has made as a hitter. He batted just .217 his freshman season and did not hit a home run.
But his recent success at the plate prompted Morris to move him to the five hole this past weekend, an unfamiliar spot for the sophomore.
“He has come a long way as a hitter but I’m not sure he is ready to hit five for us yet,” Morris said. “I would hate to put too much pressure on him too early, but right now, he needs to bat five, six, or seven, and knock in runs for us to help us win.”
Despite his success, San Pedro is very modest. His turnaround can be attributed to a newly found patience at the plate. As an aggressive player, San Pedro has worked hard to calm down and wait for his pitch, something that has made him one of the ‘Canes best hitters, but that’s a label the catcher doesn’t necessarily want to wear.
“I wouldn’t say that I’m one of the best hitters on the team because there are a lot of great hitters on this team,” San Pedro said. “Last season I worked out a lot, and I’ve calmed down in my approach of swinging the bat. I’ve been more patient seeing the ball and I’ve been trying to hit the ball to right field.”
Morris points to San Pedro’s effort in helping his teammates as something that has helped the ‘Canes win close games.
“The thing that has helped us has been a team effort,” Morris said. “Erick has really picked it up. Different guys have been hot at different times and that’s what it takes to win.”
As a catcher, San Pedro realizes that hitting is not his only job. As the only player who can see the entire field, San Pedro feels that he has a very important role in this team defensively.
“Catching is all about taking control and being in charge,” San Pedro said. “Every pitch I’m always telling the pitcher something. The most important aspect is being a leader, being a captain on the field, and telling people where to go and how to set up defensively.”
San Pedro has also possessed strong character in his two years at UM. Morris states that San Pedro’s traits off the field are just as beneficiary to the team as what he does on the field.
“Erick is a great kid and a really hard worker who is very attentive and listens,” Morris said. “He wants to be the best he can be, and he is fun to be around. How he conducts himself is really a credit to him and his family.”
This work ethic could have been picked up from San Pedro’s father, who has always been his biggest supporter. No matter what happens in his life, Erick says his father is there to pick him up and help him move on to the next step.
“My dad helps me out a lot,” San Pedro said. “Even though he gets on my case once in a while, he is the one that looks out for me. He brought me up playing baseball and he is there for me when times are good and times are bad.”
Above all, though, San Pedro is most proud of his ability to deliver when the game is close.
“I like being on the spot when the game is on the line,” San Pedro said. “One of the main reasons I am here is because when Coach Morris came to watch me play (in high school), I got the game winning hit against a district opponent. Clutch and aggressive are the things I try to be on the field.”
Darren Grossman at DRG215@aol.com.