ALHAMBRA – If you ask Mark Keppel High catcher and right-handed pitcher Nathan Torres what he’s batting or how many strikeouts he has, he really doesn’t know.
He just cares that the Aztecs are winning.
A native of Chicago, the junior said baseball is pretty much all he wants to do.
“It’s what I grew up doing, since I was 12,” Torres said. “I like being in control of the game. I like being involved in every play.”
A natural behind the plate, Torres said he has taken to the mound out of necessity for the team.
“I’ve been pitching in high school since last year,” said Torres, who throws a fastball in the low 80s, a curveball and a change-up. They needed guys in the bullpen. They thought originally I was going to close out games. Then they started using me as a starter.”
As for Torres’ stats, Torres leads the team in hits with 15 and is batting .441 with 11 RBIs, three doubles and two triples through Friday’s game at Schurr High, according to the team’s stat page on MaxPreps.com.
On the mound, he’s 1-0 in three appearances with a 3.23 ERA in 13 innings pitched.
“I don’t check MaxPreps everyday,” Torres said. “I don’t want it to affect my game. I just go out and play my game.
As for the Aztecs, Torres said they’re doing better.
“We’re looking good,” he said. “We started out rough, then got through some mental barriers as a team. Guys realized how much they have to give up for the team, how much effort they have to put in at practice. So, things then started to click.”
As a catcher, Torres – a Chicago Cubs fan – said he is well aware playing behind the plate is the quickest route to the Major Leagues. He is also hoping to attend Cal State Long Beach to play baseball after high school as some of his favorite players – like the Rays’ Evan Longoria or the Angels’ Jered Weaver – played college ball there.
His favorite class currently is psychology and is hoping to pursue a career in law enforcement with a degree in criminal justice. That is if the Big Leagues don’t call him first.
He also had words of praise for Keppel coach Houston Hernandez, who took over the team a few years ago and has made it a winning one.
“He’s a great coach,” Torres said of Hernandez. “He really flipped the program around. He really disciplines us and shows us the seriousness of the game. He teaches us a lot. He’s a great teacher.”