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From Stingtown to Wrigley Field

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Many high school athletes dream of getting drafted, or playing “college ball” in whatever their sport may be. However, not many actually get the chance, much less ever get to be part of a World Series-winning organization like the Chicago Cubs, who recently ended a 103-year’s title drought in 2016.

Mr. Socorro next to the Commissioner’s Trophy.

To Mr. Kenny Socorro, alumnus from the Miami High Class of 2007, being where he is now is part of his dream. “I had always wanted a career in baseball,” he said. “I know a lot of people would wish to be in my position. Although it’s not glorious, it’s doing what I love to do.”

In the fall of 2016, as an assistant for player development and an international scout for the Chicago Cubs, he experienced the most memorable moment in his life by far. “November 2nd, 2016 and the whole week before, was the most exciting week of my life,” he said. “Winning a World Series was one of those things that as a kid I always dreamed of.”

 

High School Baseball All-Star  

At Miami High, Mr. Socorro played shortstop (SS) for the Stings and had a very
impressive career. As a junior, his batting average was .488, earning a spot on the All-County first team. As a senior, his average increased to a .561 with 27 RBI—the highest in Dade County at the time—securing him another spot on the All-County first team, and on the second All-State team.

“Winning the District Championship title 3 out of my 4 high school years will forever be my favorite memory from Miami High,” he said. “It’s just one of those things you strive for during your whole time as a player. It is just an indescribable experience.”

Mr. Socorro’s favorite memories are the times shared with his teammates. “Baseball at Miami High was great. I loved it, it was fun every day, especially the practices at Curtis Park,” he said.

He also recalls his last game during his senior year as unforgettable. “Coach Suarez wasn’t sure of the job the pitchers were doing so he said, ‘Hey I want you to pitch’, so I said, ‘Sure.’ My starting position was not pitching, but I did a pretty impressive job against a tough Miami Springs team. I only gave up 3 runs in a close game where we lost 3-2. Suarez wanted to take me out in the 6th inning, and I said ‘No way, I’m finishing this.’ I pitched a whole game—I think I threw over 100 pitches.”

Because Mr. Socorro was such a dedicated baseball player, it didn’t allow him to participate in other extracurricular activities. However, Miami High did leave him with long-lasting friendships and memories. “I am still friends with many of the people I met in high school,” he said.  “If I could go back to any time in life, it would be high school. I loved my high school years.”

Mr. Socorro graduated with a 3.1 GPA and said his favorite subject was biology. As a student-athlete, Mr. Socorro had to deal with the pressure of classes while playing a sport, which requires a lot of time management and dedication. “Grades and baseball came together for me. If I was not to get drafted in high school, I had to keep my grades up to get into college. It was one of those things that went hand in hand,” he said.

Today, Mr. Socorro maintains a long-lasting friendship with Mr. Suarez, his former baseball coach. “He [Mr. Suarez] is one of those people that as you get older, you realize how much he cares. As a player, he was hard and strict, and it is frustrating because you are young and you do not care much,” he said. “But as I grew older, he’d contact me just to see how my family and I were doing. He showed me he genuinely cared about everything, not just me as a baseball player. It’s hard to find people that contact you just to see how you’re doing and not ask for anything, and he is one of those people.”

Mr. Socorro believes Coach Suarez was one of the most influential people in his career. “Lots of seasons I’d slack off and he’d go back and put me on track,” he said.

 

College Scholarship and Getting Drafted into the Pro’s

Mr. Socorro went to play college baseball at Marshall University in West Virginia, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business management in 2011. As a college ball player, he had a .284 batting average and was a starting infielder his freshman year. Sophomore year he hit at a .326 and fielded .923, while as a junior, he hit .330 and fielded .921. As a senior, he hit .380 and fielded .954. He was ranked 8th in batting average in Conference USA and made second-team All-Conference.

Mr. Socorro got to experience professional ball, a dream of many. The Chicago Cubs picked him in the 44th round of the 2011 amateur draft which gave him the chance to continue his baseball career in their minor-league organizations.

“Minor league was one of the things I never thought of doing,” he said. “I used to compare myself to the big players I saw on TV, and I knew I was not the best. I was not up there. But, I was given the chance so I took it.”

Before transitioning to the Boise Hawks, where he hit .227 in 23 games, he spent the summer of 2011 as a utility infielder for the Arizona League Cubs where he went 3 for 4, with 2 doubles, and 3 RBI’s.
Ultimately, he ended up on the Peoria Chiefs, the team where he would become a player-coach in 2012, where he batted .316 in 10 games but did not see much playing time.

“I reported to spring training in 2012 and as the rosters kept getting filled up, there was no room for me in there,” he said, “so I was given the option to become a player-coach and continue with the organization because they did not want to release me. I just knew my time [as a player] was over.

From the Baseball Diamond to the Front Office

After a 2013 season with the Kane County Cougars, the assistant for player development and international scouting position opened up in Wrigley Field so he decided to go for it. “I’m bilingual, understand the game, and they thought I was a smart kid so they decided to move me into office,” he said.

Mr. Socorro does not have an easy job. “It’s a job that requires experience, watching baseball for many years,” he said. “You have to project how a kid is going to be in the Big Leagues. To assume that they’ll get stronger and bigger and they will keep improving is just not easy.”

As a scout, this is what he looks for in the next MLB star: “The 5 tools are Speed, Power, Hitting for Average, Fielding, Arm Strength. I look for the best players on the field, and they’re usually the ones who possess these tools,” he said. “It’s a tough job because [baseball] is a highly competitive industry.”

 

The Importance of Family

Mr. Socorro credits his family for a lot of his success. ”My dad (a Miami High alumnus and Sting baseball player) has always been a big baseball fan. He played it, loved it but was not so talented, but had a passion for the sport,” he said.  “My family has always been supportive, no matter what. My dad told me he’d always try to guide me, but ultimately they were all my decisions.”

Reflecting back to his high school years, Mr. Socorro wishes he had done a lot of things differently. “It [high school] was all sports, sports, and sports. In high school, your teachers push you, but when I got to college, it was completely different because nobody cared,” he said. “My parents used to tell me ‘Pay attention in school,” and as a kid I did not see it as important; it was more like ‘just stop bothering me.’ ten years later, now I see the importance.”

Not everything is always baseball for Mr. Socorro—he also likes to do other fun things in his free time. “There are always lots of things going on in Chicago, so I have fun with whatever is going on,” he said. “Traveling is fun too.”

In the future, Mr. Socorro wants to do some traveling and be there more for his family. “9 months out of the year are very demanding, working every day, even the weekends sometimes.  I just want to be there more for my family, but sometimes I can’t because of my job,” he said. “They understand my job and I’m thankful for that.”

 

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About the Writer
Juan Rivera, Online Editor-in-Chief

Juan is a senior in Journalism 3 who serves as Online Editor-in-Chief for the current year. Juan is the Vice-President for the Math Honor society (MAO),...

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