Former Calvert Hall star shortstop Jose Torres, who was selected by the Cincinnati Reds in the third round of the 2021 MLB Draft, credits Cardinals head coach Lou Eckerl for helping him develop as a ballplayer and a man in high school.
Torres was born in the Dominican Republic in 1999 and moved to the Baltimore area at the age of 12, with a stop in Miami in between. Torres and his older brother, Dariel, both played baseball growing up. They connected with Calvert Hall’s coaches through their friend Manny Rodriguez, a former Cardinals standout who is now in the New York Mets’ organization.
Dariel graduated from Calvert Hall in 2016, while Jose graduated in 2019. As a senior, Jose Torres hit .402 with 44 RBIs, led the Cardinals to the MIAA A Conference title and earned Baltimore Sun All-Metro Player of the Year honors. He was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 24th round of the 2019 draft but opted to attend NC State, where he starred.
But Calvert Hall was the jumping-off point for Torres thanks in part to the guidance provided by Eckerl.
“I can sit here all day and talk about Coach Eckerl,” Torres said on Glenn Clark Radio Aug. 31. “He’s a stand-up guy. Playing for him, it helped me a lot. It helped me grow from a young man to a man before I even made it to college, so I’m very fortunate to have a coach like that. His resume speaks for itself, what he’s done for Calvert Hall baseball and for the Calvert Hall community speaks for itself. It was awesome, a good experience to play for him and I learned a lot.”
The 6-foot, 171-pound shortstop spent two years at NC State, though the 2020 season was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He hit .300/.349/.533 with 13 homers and 47 RBIs in 69 games from 2020-2021, helping the Wolfpack to a 37-19 overall record this past season. Plus, his home run in Game 3 of NC State’s super regional at top overall seed Arkansas sent the Wolfpack to the College World Series in Omaha:
However, NC State was removed from the College World Series when it was just one win away from the best-of-three finals due to COVID-19 protocols. (Eight players tested positive for the Delta variant of the virus.) As such, Vanderbilt advanced to the finals against Mississippi State, which won it all.
When Wolfpack players returned to campus, they were greeted by fans at Doak Field:
So, would NC State have won it all if not for COVID?
“One hundred percent,” Torres said.
However, the reception the players got from their fans when they got home was “magical,” according to Torres.
“I remember that night when [head coach Elliott Avent] told us that our season was over, it was a very sad feeling. Going to sleep that night was very hard for, I think, all of us,” Torres said. “Getting on a plane the next day and going to Raleigh and then getting there, getting to the field and seeing a lot of fans, a lot of people there waiting for us, it was an experience that is hard to explain.”
A couple weeks later, Torres was drafted by the Reds. He signed for a reported $622,500 bonus and is now playing shortstop for Low-A Daytona. Should Torres eventually make it to the majors, he’ll be the third Cardinal to do so, joining pitcher Dave Boswell and outfielder Troy Stokes Jr. Boswell pitched in the big leagues from 1964-1971, while Stokes debuted with the Pittsburgh Pirates earlier this year.
Torres is hitting .250/.310/.462 with three home runs in 13 games for Daytona entering play Sept. 3. He approaches every at-bat the same way, whether it’s against a young minor leaguer or a rehabbing big leaguer.
“I’ve just got to compete my ass off and win that at-bat,” Torres said.
For more from Torres, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Aldrin Capulong