Baseball academy

Zac Hernandez discusses pitching with a group of players at a clinic, Sunday, June 2, 2019, at Monache High School.

Hernandez family giving players more opportunities to play in summer

Rene Hernandez and his sons — California State University, San Jose pitcher Jake Hernandez and former College of Sequoias outfielder Zac Hernandez — along with other former and active college baseball players, held a free clinic Sunday, June 2, at Monache High School, to introduce their new youth baseball academy to the community.

Rene held the clinic to gauge interest and availability of kids that wanted to play baseball in the summer and fall. He said a total of 45 players showed up for the clinic and they are looking to have another clinic later this month.

“I see a lot of kids not doing much in the summer after Little League,” Rene said. “We live in California and we should be playing till the cold weather arrives.”

Helping coach the clinic with the Hernandez family were Fresno Pacific starting catcher Angel Flores, Friends University outfielder Emilio Navarro and University of Kansas pitcher Tyler Davis.

“Our goal is to educate these young players on the fundamentals of baseball and to be mentally strong,” Hernandez said. “You will fail in this game and you must forget quickly too when you do. That’s the mental part. For example, if you bat 10 times you will strikeout, groundout, flyout, an average of seven out of 10 at-bats. It’s hard to hit an average of .300.”

Rene has already set up scrimmages against Chamberlain Baseball Academy in Visalia and will coach players along with his son, Jake.

“Even if we get 10 kids I will be happy,” Rene said. “We will start late to mid-June and continue through the fall for the kids that don’t play football.”

The academy is open to players aged 9-12 and incoming eighth graders. Although Rene said a price hadn’t been decided on yet, he plans to keep things low and in the $35-40 a month price range.

Rene said the program will not be very demanding with practices that include fielding and hitting once a week. Games will be under the lights in Visalia, and Rene hopes some will be played eventually in Porterville too. 

“This is not about winning or losing, it’s about getting these kids ready for their next season in Little League and for high school coaching,” Rene said. “Kids playing Little League All-Stars are welcome too, once their tournament ends. For this to work we must have commitments from the parents and players, without that it can be difficult.”

Monache High School athletic director and baseball coach, A.J. Watts, opened the school’s baseball field up to the Hernandezes to use for practice. Watts said that a baseball academy is beneficial to both players and coaches. 

“Anytime a high school coach or coaches have access to kids that have played more baseball is always a good thing,” Watts said. “Throughout the Valley, it’s nice to have kids that come to you that have basic mechanics and stuff like that. And I think it’s as simple as anytime you can play more baseball, it’s better. It’s better for the kid, the athlete, the young man and the family. We’re just indirectly getting better players from it.” 

Rene said he also operates a high school summer league team with local and outside the area players that is still going strong after eight years. Next year he’d like to have one or two 13-15 year old teams that can play other towns during the summer. 

“I remember playing at the Muni Ballpark where the courthouse stands now when I was 13,” Rene said. “We had six teams just in that age group back in the day. If kids play hard, respect the game, understand the fundamentals of the game, [most importantly] have fun, and compete, they will continue to play baseball after Little League.”

Rene said that he was privileged to be around coaches that taught him or coached his sons. Conversations with area coaches like Milt Stowe, former Porterville College coach Bret Davis, Pete Carganilla Jr., Mike Hill, AJ Watts, Rusty Jones, “the great” Joe Carrillo, Danny Mulberry and coaches from COS inspired him to start the academy. He plans to pass down what he learned from them to members of his youth academy. 

The academy doesn’t have an official name yet but Rene said they’ll have a Facebook page soon. In the meantime, for more information contact Rene Hernandez at 559-483-6848 after 5 p.m. or send him an email at rene4sons@yahoo.com

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