Estrada prepares for college at Northwoods League

Eddie Estrada bats for the Northwoods Leagues Willmar Stingers in a game against the Rochester Honkers at the Bill Taunton Stadium in Willmar, Minn., on July 9, 2015. Estrada will be entering his first season with the Gophers this fall.

Image by Juliet Farmer

Eddie Estrada bats for the Northwoods League’s Willmar Stingers in a game against the Rochester Honkers at the Bill Taunton Stadium in Willmar, Minn., on July 9, 2015. Estrada will be entering his first season with the Gophers this fall.

by Emily Polglaze

Eddie Estrada was being scouted by the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Boston Red Sox and the Minnesota Twins just over a month ago, but his focus remained with his summer team, the Willmar Stingers. Estrada, who will join the Gophers baseball team next year as a freshman, is gearing up for his collegiate career by spending his summer playing in the Northwoods League with the Stingers. âÄúIâÄôve definitely had a big transition,âÄù Estrada said. âÄúBut IâÄôve found my rhythm, and IâÄôm trusting myself more.âÄù Before coming to the Northwoods League, Estrada capped off a successful high school career with the Litchfield Dragons by winning the title of MinnesotaâÄôs Mr. Baseball as a senior. âÄúWhen I first heard them call me for that award, I was so grateful,âÄù Estrada said. âÄúBeing around all of those guys who did so great in their high school careers, it was awesome.âÄù The Mr. Baseball recipient excelled offensively in Litchfield. During his final season, the left-hander posted a batting average of .590 in 39 at bats. Of his 23 hits, 7 were homeruns. Swinging the bat has been no problem for Estrada in Willmar, as he has primarily been filling the designated hitter position. Though his .295 average isnâÄôt as stunning as his average from high school, Estrada said heâÄôs benefitted by becoming more consistent. âÄúI think IâÄôve gone from a big power hitter to average power,âÄù Estrada said. âÄúSo my contact has gone up a lot from high school.âÄù As of press time, Estrada has had 78 at bats, with 15 runs, one home run and 16 RBIs in 26 games. His hitting chops made Estrada a prospect for the 2015 MLB Draft in June, but he said he chose to maintain his focus on summer ball and college. Though his hitting has proven to be solid, where Estrada will end up defensively is a mystery. âÄúThatâÄôs the million dollar question,âÄù Minnesota head coach John Anderson said. Estrada played shortstop in high school, but Anderson said heâÄôs unsure if heâÄôll be able to fill that role at the college level. In Willmar, Estrada is listed as a third baseman but hasnâÄôt seen any time in the field. âÄúI think weâÄôre going to do what heâÄôs doing right now,âÄù Anderson said. âÄúWeâÄôre going to play him at third, at first [and] in the outfield. And weâÄôll see which position fits the type of player he is.âÄù Anderson said though Estrada may move defensively day-to-day as needed, thatâÄôs something he likes about the freshman. He said EstradaâÄôs versatility and flexibility will benefit the team in his first season. Estrada has a few more weeks left in Willmar, but said he looks forward to arriving on campus and starting his time with the Gophers. Working with future Gophers teammates Dan Motl and Tyler Hanson with the Stingers has helped Estrada learn what to expect before he takes his first practice at Siebert Field. âÄúEddie has made some good adjustments so far,âÄù Hanson said. âÄúItâÄôs hard going from high school to here, so itâÄôs been good to have him around.âÄù While Estrada could become a pro player in the future, in the meantime, he hopes to make impact at Minnesota. âÄúIâÄôm going there with a humble mentality knowing that I can improve,âÄù Estrada said. âÄúBut I definitely want to become a very big contributor for the Gophers. IâÄôm looking forward to it.âÄù