Youth baseball team, the Dirtbags, meets big league player

The Okeechobee 10U Dirtbags had a brush with the major leagues following a doubleheader they played in Okeechobee on Sept. 22.

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News/Ruben Guerrero
The Chobee Dirtbags pose with New York Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes.

The Dirtbags played a twin bill against Palm Beach Elite and Sebring on Sept. 22, losing to Palm Beach and beating Sebring.

Dirtbags head coach Ruben Guerrero’s son had played on Palm Beach Elite in the past, so Guerrero was aware that a Major League Baseball player’s son was on the team and that he might come to watch the game in Okeechobee.

Sure enough, after the games were done a manager representing New York Mets left fielder Yoenis Cespedes approached Guerrero and asked if he wanted to get his team together for a picture with the ballplayer.

Yoenis Cespedes was a back-to-back MLB Home Run Derby champion in 2013 and 2014, a two-time All-Star, a member of the National League champions in 2015 and played in the World Series. He spent time with the Oakland Athletics, Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers before his current four-year stint with the New York Mets, who do their spring training in Port St. Lucie.

“He stayed and signed for awhile,” said Guerrero. “He was just an awesome individual. Very humble. He told us that he used to be that kid waiting in line for an autograph and the guy would leave after only signing three. He said he never wanted to be like that. Our kids were excited, they couldn’t believe it.”

Not only did Cespedes sign autographs for the Okeechobee kids, he stayed to meet and sign autographs for the Sebring kids, too.

The Chobee Dirtbags have been able to hold their own on the travel ball circuit throughout the last few weeks of summer.

The team finished in the second place once and third place twice in the last three tournaments they’ve played in. In the past 15 games, the Dirtbags have won 12 and only lost three.

“We’re doing very well and holding our own,” said Guerrero. “Levi Larson and Issac Alaniz have really improved on our team and have taken the next step. Levi has become a great hitter, don’t think he has struck out all summer. And Issac has become one of our better pitchers.”

Guerrero also gave credit to his fellow coaches Kyle Buckner, Bobby Koedam and James Beville for the team’s success.

The Chobee Dirtbags are playing in another tournament this weekend, Sept.28-29. The Central Florida Super Regional is being conducted by United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA) in Sanford.

“It’s going to be a really good tournament,” explained Guerrero “It’s in the Boombah Sports Complex, which is a super-nice facility. It should be fun.”

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