The four Bloomingdale seniors want to end their high school careers on a good note as they sign college baseball commitments.

Photos Courtesy of Kathi Hayes

The Bloomingdale Bulls baseball program had four players sign on National Signing Day on November 14. Bryce Hazzard, Nico Saladino, Myles Caba and Kyle Merkle all made commitments to play baseball at the next level.

Outfielder Bryce Hazzard signs with Nova Southeastern.

“It means the world to me,” said Hazzard. “It’s a dream come true. I’ve wanted to play college baseball ever since I was a little kid, and I’m happy that I was finally able to achieve that milestone that I’ve set for myself. I’m very grateful.” The senior switch-hitting outfielder has been a starter on varsity all four years for the Bulls. Last season he hit .295 with 23 hits and 13 runs batted in. He plans on majoring in business and minoring in sports management at Nova Southeastern. He will join former Bulls’ teammate and fellow outfielder, Nate Chevalier.

Shortstop Nico Saladino signs with South Florida State College.

Last year’s team MVP for the Bulls, Nico Saladino, has committed to play baseball for the South Florida State College Panthers. Saladino, the grandson of Saladino Tournament founder, Tony Saladino, was a vital player for the Bulls last season, as they won their first district tournament championship in Head Coach Kris Wilken’s 11 seasons. In the championship game, he hit a long two-run home run that extended the lead, which was never relinquished. The left-handed hitter primarily played shortstop and batted at the top of the order, hitting .303 with 20 hits and 13 runs batted in. He also became a starting pitcher midway through the season when teammate Jesse Hunter got hurt, throwing 25.2 innings with a minuscule 0.27 ERA and 22 strikeouts. ‘It means a lot,” said Saladino, “To work for that for a long time and to finally get it done is a big relief and it feels good to do it.” He wants to major in criminal justice and later train to become a firefighter.

“Nico leads by example on the field,” said Jim Osting, Head Coach of the Ostingers AAU team that all four players played on. “He’s not very vocal; however, he is always in the right place at the right time. That’s what you need out of a shortstop. He’s a great kid, quiet, everybody loves him.”

Pitcher Myles Caba signs with South Florida State College.

Saladino’s teammate Myles Caba will join him at South Florida State College. The power lefty cranked out 56.1 innings and was the ace of the pitching staff, throwing in all the big games against tough opponents. He had a 2.24 ERA and 67 strikeouts. Caba closed out the district championship game against Riverview, picking up the save. “As a left-handed pitcher, I think he’s just now starting to blossom,” said Osting. “The sky is the limit for him.” Caba wants to major in the medical field. “Hopefully this can propel me into dreams of playing in the MLB,” said Caba. “I think this is a great opportunity and we’ll see where it goes from here.”

Designated Hitter Kyle Merkle signs with Presbyterian College.

Kyle Merkle, a 6’5″ designated hitter, has committed to play for Presbyterian College where he will major in physics. Merkle was a tremendous power hitter last season, hitting several home runs. He had 15 hits and 10 runs batted in. “He’s a quiet giant,” said Osting. “He has as much power as some big league players.” He wants to gain a starting spot for the team when he joins his college team next season as either a first basemen or the designated hitter. “It honestly means everything,” said Merkle. “This has been a life-long dream of mine.”

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Nick Nahas has written for the Osprey Observer since 2016. He has lived in the Valrico area since 2002 and has his bachelor’s degree in mass communications from the University of South Florida. He is dedicated to covering sports in Hillsborough County at every level.