Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Rodriguezes Set for Showcase Event

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Rodriguezes Set for Showcase Event

Article excerpt

Luis Rodriguez and Brian Rodriguez are not related, but they certainly have a lot in common.

They both came to the U.S. at an advanced age from their native Dominican Republic, looking for a chance to play baseball at a higher level.

Passaic's Luis Rodriguez and Weehawken's Brian Rodriguez will get an opportunity tonight, when they participate in the third annual Garden State Underclassman Games, slated to begin at Diamond Nation in Flemington at 7 p.m.

Luis Rodriguez, a junior at Passaic, came to the U.S. when he was 12 years old.

"When I came to the U.S., it was a whole different world," the catcher said. "In the Dominican Republic, I had a lot more time to play baseball. There, it was baseball 24/7. I came from a very poor place [Santiago], so my first goal was always baseball. But when I came here, my priorities changed. For you to get noticed, you have to do well in school as well."

Brian Rodriguez, a junior at Weehawken, arrived when he was 16 years old.

"I started playing baseball when I was 5 [years old]," said the pitcher/third baseman. "I played baseball all the time. When I came here, I felt kind of bad, because I was leaving a lot of my family members, my friends, my coach there. But I also knew that coming here was a good opportunity for me to take the next step."

Four teams of the state's top underclassmen players will face off tonight. The Northeast team that includes Luis and Brian Rodriguez will play an all-star team from the Northwest, while teams from the Central and South will clash at the complex's adjacent field.

The games serve as a talent showcase, with college and professional scouts expected in attendance.

"We received a great response from the many college scouts in attendance the past two years," said Steve DiTrolio, director of the Garden State Underclassman Games.

Pete Diaz, the Passaic coach, believes that this is an excellent chance for his player to get recognized.

"I think Luis has been frustrated, because he wants to get his name out there more," he said. …

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