While Deerfield Beach High School’s baseball team is still searching for its first win of the season, it already scored a victory of sorts during the offseason.
Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Mike Fiers, a 2003 graduate of Deerfield Beach High, spent a few weeks at his alma mater helping coach the players before he left for spring training. The Pompano native worked with both the pitcher and position players on the varsity and junior varsity programs.
Fiers said he came back to help players reach the next level. He is good friends with Bucks assistant coach Mike Dobre and asked to come out and help.
“I wanted to help them out with everything whether it is baseball or life in general,” said Fiers, who is 10-14 for his major league career. “I came out every day before I left for spring training and I loved being out there.”
After graduating from Deerfield Beach, Fiers went on to Broward College, spent a year at the University of the Cumberlands in Kentucky for one year and finished as an All-American at Nova Southeastern University. He was drafted in 2009 in the 22nd round by Milwaukee and reached the big leagues in 2011.
Fiers said he always had a dream to pitch in the major leagues. He played with another major leaguer in Mickey Storey, who is a pitcher with the Toronto Blue Jays, for three years at Deerfield.
“It’s definitely a tough game and takes a lot of hard work,” said Fiers, 28, of Pompano Beach. “I pride myself on that. I always had that dream and I wanted it. I’ve had setbacks. I’ve had success. It was a long journey. I had the mindset of knowing I was going to make it and staying positive.”
Fiers said he was impressed by the work ethic the players displayed at DBHS. He worked on the fundamentals of baseball with many of the players. In his senior year at Deerfield Beach, they lost in the regional final to Hialeah High.
It was his second visit to Deerfield Beach High since he graduated. Fiers went while he was at Broward College and also volunteered at nearby Zion Lutheran when Dobre was a coach there.
“I like coaching and helping out kids,” Fiers said. “They have to take it as a game, because it is a game. You want to go out and have fun and that makes it easier. Some guys maybe take it as a job, but it is not a job yet. You want to get good grades and that will help you out.”
“I graduated 10 years ago and it feels the same,” Fiers continued. “It is good to come back and help them get where they want to go. I just want them to compete and, hopefully, their mindset is to want to win. I just wanted to try and make the game as simple as possible.”
Deerfield Beach High School junior Kyle Miller said it was a bonus to have Fiers around.
“It was great to have coach Fiers around,” Miller said. “He’s been through this program before and he knows the ins and outs of baseball. He is somebody you can listen to because he is at the top level of baseball right now.
“He is not just some guy that puts on a hat and calls himself a coach,” Miller added. “He lives it every day. It was good to have him around teaching us.”
Miller said among the things that Fiers helped him with was his approach to pitching.
“He is a right-handed pitcher who doesn’t throw 98 (mph), but he knows how to pitch and get outs,” Miller said. “He relies on good off speed pitches and good location. You really learn good pitching from a guy like Mike Fiers. It’s cool that he volunteered to give back to the program, a program that gave him so much as a kid.”
“This definitely gives you hope to see a guy who came out of Deerfield and has had great success playing the sport,” Miller said. “It shows a lot of kids that if you work hard every day and you want it bad enough, even if you don’t throw a 106-mph fastball, you can still have success.”
“Mike was like the Pied Piper with the players following him and picking his brain,” said first year Bucks coach Angelo Latrento. “He’s a homegrown kid who gave the kids hope and motivation.”