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West Orange Times & Observer Wednesday, Jul. 2, 2014 4 years ago

Squeeze's Portales among Florida League's elite hitters

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by: Steven Ryzewski Senior Sports Editor

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If you were to look at the Florida Collegiate Summer League’s statistical leaders at the plate, it would be hard to miss Danny Portales’ name.

The outfielder/pitcher for the Winter Garden Squeeze (13-9) is first in the league in hits (32), second in the league in batting average (.390) despite being first in the league in at-bats (82), second in the league in RBIs (17) and he’s even stolen six bases.

Of course, the number that stands out the most to Squeeze head coach Ruben Felix is Portales’ strikeouts — or rather, his lack of them, and his ability to be a tough out.

“I think he’s got a real good approach,” Felix said. “He’s really, really short to the ball. With two strikes he’s really aware of expanding the zone and he’s got good bat-head control and I think that’s what makes him a tough out.”

It’s a continuation of sorts of Portales’ strong freshman campaign at the University of South Florida. The Tampa native hit .249 with 20 RBIs for the Bulls, appearing in 52 of 58 games.

From his impressive numbers as a freshman to his status atop nearly every offensive category so far this season in the FCSL, Portales says that his having a belief in his abilities has been key.

“I’m a little bit surprised but, you know, when you get confident at the plate it’s real easy to do the job,” Portales said.

The rising-sophomore has been an integral part of an offense that has been manufacturing runs all season. An obvious choice for next week’s All-Star Game in Sanford, Portales said his focus down the stretch will remain on improving his fundamental approach at the plate.

“[I’m] just looking to improve my vision at the plate and trying to square the ball up more,” Portales said. “This league is definitely helping me do it.”

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