Like most boys his age, 14-year-old Ray Torres is crazy about baseball.
He began playing while growing up in Brooklyn, but didn’t take it very seriously until he was 8. Two years later, Torres was traveling with his dad, Raymond, when he saw something that caught his attention and changed his future aspirations for the better.
The Torres’ traveled to Puerto Rico in 2010 to take in the American Amateur Baseball World Series. There, the younger Torres was star struck as he watched in awe as the catcher, a position he’d always wanted to play, was playing like no kid he’d ever seen before.
“Growing up, I always wanted to catch but I never got the opportunity,” he said. “In 2010 we went to Puerto Rico for the AABC World Series and I saw a kid who was the best catcher I’d ever seen, he was amazing. And I think that inspired me to work harder and to try to be like him.”
Motivated like never before, Torres went home and worked on his craft, developing an advanced knack for catching – something that’s grown from a desire to an on-field spectacle that’s garnering national acclaim.
“As a catcher I feel like I’m a very good defender – I throw, I block and I’m a good catcher,” he said. “Offensively I think I’m getting there. I wouldn’t say I’m one of the best hitters, but I’m pretty good with the bat.”
Torres put his skill to the test last year when he was just 13 as he began playing up in age for his travel ball teams, taking the field with 18-year-old high school seniors although he’d just finished the sixth grade.
“Last year I was kind of getting blown away with the competition,” he said. “It wasn’t so much behind the plate, but when I was hitting it was kind of hard to adjust because I went from seeing 70 (miles per hour) to 85 or more.”
But Torres hung in there, got better and started to get more and more comfortable at the plate. With his Under-18 team experience helping his bat and confidence, Torres starred this past season at J.M. Robinson Middle School and will play JV as an eighth grader at Covenant Day this spring.
While Torres has made a name for himself in the local middle school circles, he’s also currently living a dream in the national spotlight.
He was recently selected to the USA Baseball National Development Team, a program geared toward selecting 40 players to represent the 2015 U-15 Team USA in an international competition.
“I think this year I got the hang of playing with the older kids and that’s really helped me going into this Team USA thing,” he said.
The competition got under way this week, and Torres is off to a scorching start. In Game 1 in Florida, Torres went 3-for-4 at the plate and drove in three runs. In the second game, he led his team to a 2-1 win with a game-winning RBI double in the eighth inning.
The elder Torres, who accompanies his son all over the Southeast for baseball showcases and games, said that while it’s a lot of traveling, he’s excited to continue his baseball career through his son.
“This has been a great experience,” Raymond Torres said. “When I was coming up, they didn’t have opportunities like this to wear USA across your chest. Now that I get a chance to experience this through my son, I’ll gladly take this ride with him. We’re just blessed, God has done great things in our life.”
While Raymond Torres had a standout career on the diamond, he said he isn’t interested in pushing his son into the sport that garnered him so many accolades.
“This is something that he’s wanted to do,” he said. “It’s not like I’m dragging him to do it, he wants to do it so I have no problem driving him to tournaments or wherever he needs to go to get seen. It’s an experience that father and son can go through and it’s a blessing we both get to experience it.”
But, like his son is beginning to do, Raymond Torres has had plenty of baseball milestones in his own life. A National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics All-American in 2000, Torres still holds the Lindsey Wilson University (Ken.) record for batting average in a season when he led the nation with a .503 clip and drove in 45 RBIs with 11 doubles, seven home runs and four triples while becoming the conference and Region XII Player of the Year and the runner up to the national Player of the Year.
After college he played professionally for three years in the Caribbean League in Puerto Rico and, in 2003, was a member of the World Series champion Carolina team. In 2006, Raymond Torres was elected into his alma mater’s Hall of Fame.
“I wanted to go out on top,” he said. “I retired that year and decided to never play baseball again except for playing catch with Ray.”
While the younger Torres is beginning to collect the same type of achievements as his father and now has a chance to represent his country as a 15-year-old, Raymond Torres is more than happy for his son’s success.
“I think it’s great for him,” the proud father said. “He’s getting to do so much through baseball and I’m proud of what he’s doing.”
Torres is basking in his on-field success, too, and said playing for Team USA is a dream come true and something he’d once only imagined.
“I’m just blessed for this to happen to me,” Torres said. “I had a dream two years ago that this would happen to me and I just put it on my calendar, hoped for it to happen and worked hard. It’s mind blowing that it came true.
“But I want to keep working hard at it. I want to play in college one day, so to make it to the college that I want to be at is one goal, and then I’d love to one day play in the major leagues. That would really be a dream come true for me.”