A Grays Ferry resident helped his Pennsport-based baseball team to a successful season.
Hailing from the Dominican Republic, an essential factory for producing stellar baseball players, Agustin Gil has desired diamond distinction since he took up the sport a decade ago. The 18-year-old senior at Horace Furness High School, 1900 S. Third St., this year received a hint of what his future might hold, as he claimed the Public League’s Division C MVP honor and similar kudos at a recent All-Star Game.
“When I came to Furness, I thought I could be a good contributor, so I’m very happy with my results and what the team did,” the resident of 28th Street and Snyder Avenue said Monday at his Pennsport school. “To have a great season in my only year here makes me feel fortunate and proud of my hard work.”
The powerful pitcher helped his institution, which lately has gained athletic renown through its football program, to amass a 9-2 divisional mark, good for a third-place finish and a playoff berth. His dynamic right arm registered five of the Falcons’ regular-season triumphs and May 10’s 17-2 destruction of the Bartram Braves in a postseason preliminary affair. The tenacious teenager also displayed his hitting prowess in the blowout by smacking a double, a triple and a home run, just as he had done in May 7’s 19-4 regular season finale massacre of the Engineering and Science Engineers.
“I enjoy them both,” Gil said of his mound and plate duties. “I love hitting and pitching has become another passion I want to improve.”
The Grays Ferry dweller began to smoke fastballs at 8, using as motivation his family’s support, especially that of his two brothers, and his island nation’s history of being a pipeline for Major League Baseball. Handling left field and third base, he honed his defensive skills, too, yet came to rely on others’ gloves upon his 2008 arrival in the United States.
“My family just came here for a better life, more opportunities,” Gil, who finished his elementary education at Universal Vare Charter Middle School, 2100 S. 24th St., before starting his secondary career at Edward Bok Technical High School, 1901 S. Ninth St., said. “I wanted to do well, too.”
His superiors soon saw him as a potential pitching phenom, and the adolescent acquiesced, feeling he could prove more imposing with extra tools and talents. After one season with Bok’s squad, he returned to the Dominican Republic for two years for even more immersion in learning how to frustrate hitters.
“When I went back, I really wanted to excel and build my strengths and mental toughness,” Gil, who spent his mornings practicing and afternoons attending school, said. “My thinking was I could be very good if I continue to dedicate myself because baseball is not easy; it takes a lot to be a good player.”
Excited to up his stock, the teenager two years ago anticipated his land’s allegiance to July 2, the date upon which 16-year-old ballplayers, or Peloteros, become eligible to ink professional contracts. He experienced a setback due to a left leg injury and needed the rest of the year to regain his health and velocity. Devoting last summer to even more intense training, he figured his trek back to America could provide added exposure, yet he never humbled his humility.
“With baseball, you never know what will happen, but I thought Furness would be a good fit for me,” Gil said, adding that having two cousins at the school, including sophomore shortstop Jose Perez, helped to make the transition a smooth one.
In his April 2 debut, the ace fanned 10 Mariana Bracetti Bulldogs in a 12-6 win. One of seven senior contributors, he consistently mentored the younger players by reminding them how appreciative they should be of their opportunities.
“We were a great group, and I received so much support and gave it to them, too, because we wanted to be a complete team,” Gil said.
His feats led to his designation as a First Team Division C All-Public performer and the 12-team group’s MVP.
“There are a lot of kids in that division, maybe 150, so to win MVP really made me proud,” Gil said.
His squad’s season ended with May 13’s 9-2 Class AAAA quarterfinal defeat to the George Washington Eagles, but his year continued Friday with the Division C/D All-Star Game at Richie Ashburn Field, 20th Street and Pattison Avenue. He punched out six hitters in two innings and delivered a two-run triple in C’s 3-0 victory, taking home another MVP honor.
“It’s been great for me to feel confident and get any sort of recognition,” Gil, who will participate in Tuesday’s 28th annual Carpenter Cup Classic at the same venue, said. “I’ve loved my time representing Furness.”
Once he leaves the 99-year-old facility, he will continue to mature through summer involvement with a North Philly team and could end up attending the University of Oklahoma for either automotive studies or criminal justice. He has a desire to become a Pennsylvania state officer yet hopes a career on the diamond can delay that vocation.
“Playing in the majors is my first goal,” Gil said. “Because of this year and my interest in growing, it can happen.”