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Last (or almost last) chance to see Gomez

A rare talent will be on display Tuesday night. Maybe for the last time in Broward (if his team loses). Maybe even for the last time -- for a while, anyway -- in South Florida (if the draft falls the right way).

So there's a chance the regional quarterfinal between Flanagan and Douglas (read about it in Tuesday's Herald) will be the last chance to see Falcons shortstop Rolando Gomez.

Watching Gomez against Cypress Bay last Thursday, it was easy to see why the guy is committed to the University of Miami (and expected to replace Jemile Weeks, if he leaves), why RISE Magazine ranks him the 25th-best senior in the nation. He doesn't have the powerful build of American Heritage's even-more-heralded prospect Eric Hosmer (Gomez is listed at 5-10, 160), the Flanagan star has presence. When he stands in the batter's box, he just looks like a stud middle-infielder.

He also swings and fields like one (despite booting a ground ball Thursday night, which coach Ray Evans called "uncharacteristic"). He's hitting around .500, has eight home runs and 30-plus RBI -- all while being the guy everyone knows to pitch around.

But let's let Evans get the last few words:

"What a joy to coach. I mean, the kid's a tireless worker. He's an unbelievable baseball player. He's got great athleticism. He's very talented. He's a quiet leader. He doesn't open his mouth much at all. He just goes out there and does his job. He's one of the best shortstops in the nation, bar none. Everybody knows that."

"When he gets up, it's almost like, 'Showtime.' He's going to get up, he's going to do something spectacular.

"He's a step above high school baseball, without a doubt. This kid is definitely going to be a professional baseball player. Maybe sooner than not. And we've gotten the opportunity to watch him play before he's there, and it's pretty neat to watch him grow."

--Patrick Dorsey (e-mail)

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