CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The 17th South Texas Winter Baseball Banquet hosted by the Corpus Christi Hooks honored 28 baseball and 30 softball players from the Coastal Bend leading up to the spring season on the preseason All-Star Team watch list, but their main awards all highlighted one element of giving back through service. A few of the honorees were Jose Trevino, Dan Firova, Nick Loftin and Kiernan Cruger.
GUEST SPEAKER: JOSE TREVINO, NY YANKEES
Following a two-year hiatus, the South Texas Winter Baseball Banquet returns with 2022 American League All-Star and Rawlings Gold Glove Award winner Jose Trevino as the featured speaker. The Golden Glove winner made his first All-Star team in his initial campaign with the New York Yankees, recording career-highs in games (115), runs scored (39), hits (83), home runs (11) and RBIs (43).
The Coastal Bend native and John Paul II graduate led Major League Baseball with 21 defensive runs saved, while logging a 3.09 catcher’s ERA, third lowest in the Majors. His 33% caught-stealing rate tied for first among American League backstops.
Since 2017, Trevino’s Toy Drive has collected toys and monetary donations for families in need during the holidays. A Roberto Clemente Award nominee for both the Yankees (2022) and Texas Rangers (2021), the 30-year-old also champions Special Hearts in the Arts.
"I was taught at a young age to give more than you receive, and I feel like if I'm on this platform and if I'm not doing anything to help other people I feel like I'm wasting my time," Trevino said. "For me being able to help anybody that I can is special for me."
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: DAN FIROVA, ASTROS
Astros Quality Assurance Coach and Refugio native Dan Firova earned a World Series title and an American League pennant in two seasons with the Astros. His prior Major League Baseball coaching stint was with the Washington Nationals who won the National League East in 2016 and 2017.
"I never dreamed about being a coach until my playing days were over, and I try to learn from the other coaches and managers that I played for," Firova said. "Maybe took a little bit of their information or how they handled situations and tried to do the same thing."
Firova’s 43-year resume features a decorated tenure as a Mexican League manager, authoring over 1,300 wins in 20 campaigns with nine teams. The former slick-fielding catcher captured league titles with Mexico City in 1997, 2000 and 2001, en route to owning the most managerial wins by a non-native of Mexico in circuit history.
Firova lettered in baseball, basketball and football at Refugio High School. The standout catcher and pitcher led the Bobcats to the region finals as a sophomore, junior and senior. Upon graduating in 1975, Firova attended Bee County Junior College where he was drafted by the Montreal Expos in the seventh round in 1977. Also selected by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 1979 draft, Firova was ultimately signed by the Seattle Mariners following a second-round selection in the secondary phase of the 1980 draft out of Texas Pan American.
MIKE ADAMS SOUTH TEXAS PRO PLAYER OF THE YEAR: NICK LOFTIN, KANSAS CITY ROYALS
Nick Loftin tied for first among Royals farmhands by scoring 104 runs in 128 games between the Double-A Northwest Arkansas Naturals and Triple-A Omaha Storm Chasers this past season.
With the bulk of play coming as a Texas Leaguer (90 GM), Loftin also ranked within the Kansas City top 10 in hits (131, T-2nd), total bases (208, T-3rd), extra-base hits (42, 5th), doubles (24, T-5th), home runs (17, 7th), steals (29, 8th) and RBIs (66, 9th).
The versatile performer logged 62 games in center field while appearing in 38 contests at third base. Loftin, selected in the first round (32nd overall) of the 2020 June draft out of Baylor University, stole 29 bases in 35 attempts for an 83% success rate. Loftin finds time to give back to his alma mater of W.B. Ray High School.
"I actually came in contact with Keevyn Goss, he'll text me every now and then just going over his stuff," Loftin said. "Mental stuff, whatever it may be, and that's kind of what I want to be. A mentor to these guys. Especially guys that are at Ray."
MATT BEVERIDGE AWARD WINNER: KIERNAN CRUGER, RAY SENIO
W.B. Ray senior Kiernan Cruger is the 15th recipient of the Matt Beveridge Award, which is given annually to a high school baseball senior who exemplifies character, courage, leadership, and spirit. Along with engaging in numerous community endeavors, the now three-year baseball letterwinner owns a 4.7 GPA which ranks 10th in a class of 394.
"Along from being just skilled and good players that we're also good people on and off the field, and I'm just glad that...I don't necessarily want the recognition for the award, but I'm just glad I had the opportunity to have this experience," Cruger said.
The @cchooks hosted their 17th South Texas Winter Baseball Banquet. ⚾️ @HipHipJose5, @NickLoftin02, @KiernanCruger & Dan Firova were honored for their service to the game. pic.twitter.com/USToUl2GDU— Larissa Liska (@LarissaLiska) January 27, 2023