Baseball: Transfer, young players key Royal Palm Beach turnaround


Home runs don’t come often in the small-ball world of high school baseball, but if you want your best chance of seeing one, head to Royal Palm Beach.

Wildcats first baseman Tarik Latchmansingh has four long balls this season, which leads the county.

“He’s got some strength, and he’s also a big kid, naturally, so that helps,” Royal Palm Beach coach Thomas Coates said. “His swing, he’s got a really nice low trigger, and he’s got a good swing. He doesn’t really have a home-run swing, per se. He doesn’t seem to try to hit the ball in the air.”

Latchmansingh, who transferred from Oxbridge Academy before the season, has led a resurgent Royal Palm Beach team to an 11-5 record — already surpassing the Wildcats’ win total from last year — and the No. 8 spot in this week’s Post Top 10.

“We’ve added some pieces that have made a huge difference,” Coates said. “And the returning pieces have really stepped up and improved. Even guys we weren’t expecting much from have really stepped up big-time for us.”

The senior slugger has been among Palm Beach County’s top home run hitters throughout his career. He tied for second in the county in home runs as a freshman, according to statistics on PalmBeachHighSchoolBaseball.com. He tied for second again last season, with four, and has 17 in his career.

“He has a really nice approach, which I think, along with his natural ability and his natural size, gives him a lot of pop,” Coates said.

But Latchmansingh is not the only player who has spurred the Wildcats to their strong season. Sophomore Alex Morejon has been key for Royal Palm both in the lineup and on the mound, hitting above .300 while striking out more than a batter per inning with a 3.00 ERA entering this week.

Dylan Lloyd, also a sophomore, has been dominant on the mound. The right-hander has pitched in seven games, starting three, and has given up two runs in 25 innings — a 0.56 ERA.

“For them to be so young, it’s a big deal,” Coates said.

Coates is in his second season at Royal Palm. Last year, his team went 10-15 and did not make it out of the district playoffs. Now, the Wildcats are in the mix for a district title. They face district rival and third-ranked Wellington (9-4) today. Both teams are 2-1 in district play, so today’s game could make the difference when it comes time to seed teams for the District 12-8A tournament.

“We talk about that all the time, about how competitive our district is,” Coates said. “If you’re not really on your game and you’re not playing solid, you could lose every Friday. It can go either way.”



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