MINFORD — Eli Daniels won’t have to travel far when he heads to college in the fall, as the Minford senior signed to play baseball with the University of Rio Grande.
Daniels made it official Monday, May 24, 2016 at Minford High School in Minford, Ohio, when he officially signed with the university while surrounded by family, coaches and school officials.
The future member of the Red Storm baseball team chose Rio Grande because it is close to home as well as believing in the program.
“It’s really close to home and coach Warnimont has been pretty close to Minford,” Daniels said. “He’s helped out with summer camps and I’ve always been down there with him. It just felt right.”
Playing for Minford has been a real positive experience for Daniels, saying his teammates an coaches have felt more like family than friends and mentors.
“I’m going to miss that, the family around here,” Daniels said. “Up at Rio it should be the same thing, so it’ll be good.”
The Minford senior hopes to help the Red Storm win a conference title next season and make a deep tournament run.
“It feels good (going to Rio Grande),” Daniels said. “I’ll be put in with good competition and will have to battle for my spot. I’ll have to give 100 percent, every day.”
Minford baseball coach Brent Daniels pulled double duty at the Eli’s signing, representing the school as the baseball coach, but also as a father.
“There’s been a fine line through the years,” Brent said. “I tried to let the other guys coach him. I’ve never tried to take stuff home that happens during the course of a game, but sometimes that stuff happens. It puts a little added stress on him having to be able to do some things a little bit better, but I think we’ve had a pretty good relationship through the four years we’ve been together in football and baseball.”
Brent said he was very proud of his son and always has been.
“He’s worked very hard for what he’s earned,” Brent said.
Former Minford baseball coach Tim Martin was also on hand for the Daniels signing.
“He’s probably going to have a real good chance at starting at Rio Grande,” Martin said. “Based simply on the kind of baseball player he is and the kind of kid he is. The kid is a class act and set an example from his freshman year.”
Martin said Daniels has always been one to set an example for the rest of the team and perhaps most importantly the younger kids on each of his teams.
“This kid can hit. He can hit any kind of pitch,” Martin said. “This year his power numbers weren’t up because everyone pitched around him, but he’s going to hit wherever he goes.”
Martin said a few NCAA Division I schools showed interest in Daniels and made offers, but he decided to go with Rio Grande.
“He just didn’t want to go too far from home,” Martin said. “He had the potential to play D I (Division I), but this was a better fit for him, especially with the scholarship he’s getting.
“It’s a top-notch program. They just got beat in the (NAIA) World Series.”
Rio Grande University baseball coach Brad Warnimont has had his eye on Daniels for a long time.
“I’ve worked Tim Martin’s camps forever, Tim and I go way back, so I’ve known Eli ever since he was at those camps,” Warnimont said. “I just knew that he was a sleeper and that he could be a dominant player. We just kept an eye on him the whole time. We’re happy to have him.”
Warnimont has high expectations for Daniels once he begins his transition into the college game.
“We lost a senior first baseman, so obviously we feel Eli can come in and compete for playing time right away and have an impact on the program,” Warnimont said. “He’s got some big shoes to fill.”
While attending Rio Grande, Daniels plans on majoring in Environmental Sciences.
“Hopefully I’ll become a biologist, or something like that,” Daniels said.
Reach Michael Hamilton at 740-353-3101, ext 1931, or on Twitter @MikeHamilton82.