Going above and beyond has paid off for Pojoaque Valley High School baseball product Gabe Huerta.
The hard work and dedication to participate in camps and clinics helped the Former Elk sign his letter of intent on May 17 to continue his baseball career at NCAA Division II Adams State University in Alamosa, Colo.
“I’ve always wanted to play college baseball, so anywhere is the place for me, pretty much,” Huerta said about winding up at Adams.
His path to that signing started at McCurdy Charter School where he began his career, but with his eyes on the future, it only made sense to make the move to a higher classification after his freshman season, a season in where McCurdy reached the Class A-2A Championship game at Isotopes Park in Albuquerque – losing 4-0 to Melrose High School.
“That helped out so much actually, because at McCurdy I saw a lot of very easy competition,” Huerta said. “Going up to 4A was much more competitive. I saw a lot faster pitchers, faster pace of the game and bigger fields, you know. There was a little bit better coaching at the bigger schools too, and going out to Baseball Factory obviously helped out a lot.”
Going above and beyond for Huerta was always about gaining the most exposure he could. Aside from partaking in the invite-only Baseball Factory Omaha National World Series baseball camp in the summer of 2018, he has also attended Baseball Factory’s Under Armour Recruiting Classic and the Under Armour Preseason Tournament, both in the state of Arizona.
By attending the camps, he was exposed to countless professionals, and he built a relationship with Kevin Riggs, who serves as a batting coach for the Philadelphia Phillies developmental squad.
“I would say that those camps were the biggest things that helped with recruiting,” Huerta said. “Gaining experience from college coaches and professionals, I just tried to take as much of that information as I could. I saw the results happen for me, and I thought maybe bring that back to my high school so I could help anybody else.”
Pojoaque struggled this season under first-year head coach Robert Riggins, who took over a predominantly young group. The Elks finished with a 6-20 record, but Huerta was still able to hit his way to a team-leading 23 RBIs, while also recording 22 hits, two home rums and finishing with a fielding percentage of .976 from his center field position.
Early in the season, Riggins spoke largely about the team’s confidence building effort as a whole as the key to improving, but he never saw that issue with Huerta.
“The biggest thing was his work ethic,” Riggins said. “He led in the weight room, he led in conditioning and he really liked using the technology and some of the other things we were doing. He was willing to integrate everything, and you never felt like he wasn’t giving his best effort.”
Faster pitchers were the biggest difference Huerta noticed about the jump from A-2A to 4A in high school, and he’s already been preparing for the increase in speed he will see at the Division II level.
“This summer, I’ve already been playing against a bunch of D1 commits,” he said. “This last tournament I was at, the ABA Invite, I faced a pitcher from TCU (Texas Christian University), I faced a UNM pitcher, played with some UNM outfielders; so I’ve seen my fair share of pretty hard competition.”
Keeping pace with his crowded schedule, Huerta most recently attended a scrimmage at Adams on June 11, where he got to compete against some top junior college transfers.
“I think I’ve seen enough,” Huerta said. “I think I’ll be ready.”
Riggins said as long as Huerta keeps to his level of commitment and diligence, he should have nothing to worry about.
“He was a hard worker on and off the field,” Riggins said. “He was really the one who set the tone on how we wanted to get things done. I think if he just shows his same worth ethic and desire he did down here, then I think he’ll do just fine up there.”