Local

April 18, 2014

Son of Army retirees is top of his league

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Gabrielle Kuholski
Staff Writer

Najee Gaskins, 16, participates in the Arizona Junior Fall Classic, a baseball showcase held last October in Peoria, Ariz. Playing second base position, he ranks number four in the state and 60th in the nation.

When it comes to inheriting traits from military parents, 16-year-old Najee Gaskins takes a Soldier’s resilience and applies it to baseball.

Perfect Game U.S.A., a baseball and scouting and talent organization, named Gaskins as the number four high school second base player in Arizona and placed him 60th in the top 1,000 rankings on their website, www.perfectgame.org. He also made Perfect Game’s 2014 Underclass All American Honorable Mention list.

The Cienega High School sophomore is son of Army retirees Glenn and Clara Gaskins. His parents, with over 20 years of combined service, and Clara continuing to work on post as a Communications Security Logistics Activity Civilian, have encouraged Najee to pursue an ambitious goal—to become the number one high school baseball player in the nation by his senior year in 2016.

“I’m trying to get there, but it takes time and effort,” Gaskins said referring to his dream ranking. “If I keep practicing, training as hard as I can, with no days off and get stronger, that’s how I think I’m going to get there.”

He explained how he trains every day by running on his school’s track and throwing and hitting balls at his home in Vail. Gaskins will hit up to 50 balls during his practice time.

The young athlete also gets plenty of time on the field playing in two different programs—his high school team and the Tucson Bobcats, a specialty team that competes in tournaments and showcases.

Gaskins is scheduled to play in two showcases at the end of May: the Rocky Mountain Showcase in Colorado and the National Academic Showcase in Florida. For June, he received an invitation to the 2014 Junior National Showcase in Fort Myers, Fla.

According to Gaskins’ father, Najee was born to play ball. He reflected upon how his son became interested in the sport as a young child.

“I gave him his first [baseball] glove as a toy and he took off from there just playing ball,” his father said.

Over the years, Gaskins grew up playing baseball, starting as soon as he was old enough to play tee ball.

Although he dreams of one day playing in the major leagues, Gaskins still realizes the importance of an education currently earning a 3.7 grade point average in school. He also has his eye on a few universities where he’d like to play college baseball.

For more information on Gaskins’ baseball statistics and other top baseball players visit www.perfectgame.org.




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