Baler Diaz-Hopkins showcases his arm

Daniel Diaz-Hopkins never felt better.
On July 18, the incoming senior at San Benito High was on the mound at Santa Clara University playing in the Bay Area World Series, one of the premier amateur baseball showcase events in Northern California.
“It (the atmosphere) was perfect,” Hopkins said. “It was a pretty good feeling looking at everyone in the stands and being under the lights. It was one of those moments in life where you’re saying to yourself, ‘Wow, this it it.’”
Hopkins, who has been playing baseball all summer with the traveling club team Watsonville Aggies, made two appearances over the three-day event, pitching three innings of shutout ball.
Utilizing a solid fastball, curveball, slider and change-up, the 5-foot-10, 160-pound right-hander had complete command of his pitches against some of the best hitters in the Bay Area. Despite playing in front of dozens of scouts and Division I coaches, Hopkins was undaunted.
“I didn’t feel nervous at all,” he said. “I didn’t give up any runs, I had five or six strikeouts and I think I gave up just one hit. It’s something I’ll remember forever, and I was having the time of my life.”
Hopkins has taken that carefree attitude and ran with it, and it’s definitely paying off. The Aggies are a competitive club with current and former San Benito High players on their roster.  
They’ve traveled to play tournaments in Los Angeles, San Leandro, Stockton, Santa Cruz and San Diego, with the latter being Hopkins’ favorite destination. The Aggies went 3-5 in the Phil Singer Summer Series tournament in San Diego last week.
“We’re right off the beach, the weather is perfect and the baseball doesn’t get any better,” he said.
Because the Aggies also have college players on their roster, they fare well against some of the other top club teams that separate their best high school players and graduated players.
This year’s Aggies’ roster included former Balers Tommy Hernandez, Connor Fabing and Jacob Trujillo along with incoming San Benito High seniors Tyler Biersdorff and Andrew Sotelo. Biersdorff, Sotelo and Hopkins played together on the same Little League All-Star teams.
Hopkins counts those times as some of the most enjoyable experiences in his career.
“Playing with those guys since Little League, getting to play with them this summer and maybe all of us getting scholarships is pretty amazing,” Hopkins said.
Balers coach Billy Aviles was not at the Bay Area World Series, but he’s got enough connections to know that Hopkins played well.
“Daniel has good command and pounds the strike zone,” Aviles said. “He’s a hard-nosed kid who works hard and is not afraid to go at a hitter. He’ll pitch quite a bit for us this next season barring injury or if he suddenly can’t throw strikes. He’s got a lot of good going for him.”
Although baseball is Hopkins’ No. 1 passion, he was the backup quarterback last year on the football team. This season Hopkins will switch to receiver, where he hopes to make a big impact.
“Growing up I feel like everyone was a receiver, so I’m pretty excited about that,” he said.

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