TAMPA, Fla. — I set out to find more about a pitching academy with a instructor who is considered a local legend.
What a group I discovered.
There are All-American little leaguers, high school stars, college starters and minor leaguers hoping for a call up to the show.
They all lined up throwing under the watchful eye of one man: Orlando Chinea.
"Everybody knows me around the Tampa Bay area," said Chineae.
He might be right.
This pitching guru says he’s helped over 100 kids play college or pro ball including late Miami Marlins star Jose Fernandez, who credited his coach with helping him get to the Major Leagues so fast.
"I realized when he turned 16 and this guy can testify this guy will be the best pitcher at the Major League Level," said Chinea.
Jose was one of the best, until he was killed in a boat crash just north of Miami Beach in September 2016.
What is lost can be found again.
"Chinea started bringing me to the baseball fields," said young standout Brian Alonso. "That’s when I got in love with the sport."
Alonso grew up watching the likes of Fernandez and now-Houston Astros starter Lance McCullers.
Chinea studied baseball in Cuba and in Japan. His techniques led McCullers to choose a specific nickname for the pitching guru.
"Yeah, Lance calls me Mr. Miyagi because my program is unorthodox," Chinea said with a laugh.
Unorthodox? Yes. It’s different, but effective.
"Without him I wouldn’t have the knowledge to be where I am right now," said Roberto Pinto a former draftee of the Kansas City Royals now playing for an Independent League team.
Baseball is the universal language here. The goal for Chinea is the same for all.
"I feel, I feel happy with these kids," said Chinea. "Hopefully they can sign and play in the major leagues too."
Chinea is selective with the pitchers he works with but if you or your child wants to receive his instructions, please contact me directly through my Facebook page.