A.J. Garcia, senior baseball player, commits to Michigan

Photo+courtesy+of+A.J.+Garcia

Photo courtesy of A.J. Garcia

Amanda Dillon, Staff Writer

Most people who play sports have the same goal, to play that sport in college. A.J. Garcia, DePaul Prep senior, has accomplished that goal.

This fall, Garcia committed to play baseball for the University of Michigan.

Going through the recruitment process can be tough, but in the end the reward outweighs it all.

Ricardo Garcia is A.J.’s dad and has been one of the people that was with AJ through the entire process. According to his dad A.J. “started playing baseball when he was four.”

A.J.’s father regularly gave him guidance that influenced his upbringing. His father had four main rules for A.J.: “I always told him ‘Don’t lie, don’t cheat, don’t steal and keep your hands to yourself.’ Even though these rules may not apply to baseball, it has shaped him into the young man he is today.”

When discussing the recruiting process, A.J. stressed how long it really took.

“I started my recruiting process when I was a sophomore in high school. It was a very fun and exciting process, but I also felt like I needed to prove myself when that wasn’t the case. I just needed to focus on playing my game and having fun.” 

Merely playing on the school’s team wasn’t enough to get noticed and recruited by D1 schools.

A.J. shared what he thought really helped him: “The most useful thing I did was doing baseball showcases. It’s one of the most important and helpful sources for me to put myself out there. Also, my development during the off-season was the most important thing because I wanted to get bigger and stronger to better my tools.”

Doing this requires a high level of commitment. A.J. stayed consistently busy between camps and playing for travel teams.

“I started to do college camps throughout the week during the spring and got the coaches’ numbers to keep in contact with them. I played for Elite Baseball Training until this past 2022 summer. I played with the East Coast Sox, a nationally ranked team out of Mississippi, to get more exposure down south with all of the other highly ranked players that I’ve followed around. During the summer, I fly out to my tournaments that are in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and Louisiana. The tournaments are five days long, and we play 1-2 games a day. Playoffs start on the second to last day of the tournament. I go home for a couple days and then I leave again for the next tournament.”

AJ’s typical day during tournaments included a usual routine.

“I wake up in the morning and I get some breakfast in the hotel. Depending on the schedule of my games, I either just relax in the hotel and wait to get dressed for my game or I head straight to the game. When I head to the baseball complex, I meet up with my team, so we can stretch and warm up together. Once the game is over, we have a team meeting, and we are dismissed to do whatever we want. I usually go to the beach with my dad or teammates and go out to dinner every night.”

To go through this process, A.J. needed passion for the game of baseball.

“I love the game of baseball because I love the crowd and the action that goes around through the game. I love the pressure because I truly have nothing to lose. Every time I get a chance to step to the plate, it feels different. I’m relaxed, hyped, and happy.”

A.J. considered many factors when choosing University of Michigan. Like many seniors he loves “…the campus, the academics, and the alumni that have attended the university.”

For him, committing to Michigan was a dream.

“It is also a dream of mine to go there, and the fact that I get to go there on a scholarship is even better. I also have made amazing friends that will be on the baseball team with me. I’m truly honored and excited to begin my college baseball career at Michigan.”

Sammy Colon is DePaul Prep varsity baseball’s new head coach, but he has been on the baseball coaching staff for the last four years. Having coached the player all four years, Coach Colon can speak to AJ’s leadership skills.

“A.J. is a tremendous leader not only by example, for obvious reasons, but vocally as well. When he speaks, others listen because of his success. Being a four-year varsity player his experience on this team, in this program, and in this league is most valuable.”

Coach Colon views A.J. as a special athlete.

“AJ has all five tools as a baseball player; speed, fielding, arm strength, hitting for contact, and hitting for power. This isn’t something you see every day. A good baseball player has two or three of those skill sets and has an extremely successful baseball career, but having the ability to do all five is something special.”

Colon expressed excitement for A.J.’s future. “We, as a coaching staff, cannot be more excited to watch A.J. during his senior season and continue on in his baseball journey at the University of Michigan.”  

For A.J.’s father, the long recruitment process was worth it.

“It was a very exciting and stressful process. I was very happy with his decision to go to the University of Michigan, as it was my dream as well to be a part of this process. I know his mom and the rest of the Garcia family are very proud of his hard work, sacrifice, and dedication.”