Laramie Rangers' Diego Herrera leading by example

May 3—Diego Herrera has already developed a reputation as someone who leads by example in his second season with the Laramie Rangers American Legion baseball team.

Quiet by nature, Herrera allows his play to do the talking. He is a table-setter for the Rangers' lineup, and is looked at as a spark plug in the batter's box.

Through four games this season, Herrera leads the team in both batting average (.400) and hits (four). Herrera's eye has also earned him three walks at the plate.

He has shown to be a smart base runner, scoring a team-best four runs. In the field, Herrera's natural position is to roam the outfield.

Rangers coach Aaron Lozano has also worked to develop Herrera's pitching, and he is now an additional relief pitcher. Herrera's arsenal of pitches includes a fastball, changeup and curveball.

"Consistency (on the mound) stands out with him," Lozano said. "He throws a lot of strikes, and that's become an underrated aspect of pitching. A lot of guys want to go out of the zone and have people chase, but when you're playing top teams like Cheyenne or Gillette, they don't fall for that.

"You end up with a lot of walks. (Herrera) lives low in the zone."

Herrera has pitched 2/3 of an inning this season, allowing four unearned runs. He walked two batters in the process, but gave up just one hit.

"I've started the year pretty good," Herrera said. "I've hit good. Pitching has been just OK. Overall, I would say my season has been decent. My pitching could definitely be better.

"So far, I've liked to lean on my changeup. I can locate it well, and it throws people off."

Last summer, Herrera tossed 24 1/3 innings and recorded a team-high three saves in four opportunities. He finished with an earned-run average of 5.12 during his first varsity season.

Between hitting at the top of the lineup, playing the outfield and pitching, Herrera feels his main role is to get on base and create scoring opportunities. He's trying to be more consistent this season.

"He's a speed guy," Lozano said. "He's not going to speak up and say stuff, but he's always working hard. We view him as a really important piece to our offense."

Herrera's goal coming into the season was to work his way into a bigger role for the team. While he also plays football for Laramie High, he knows baseball is where his heart is.

"I want all the work I do in the offseason to show in my play," Herrera said. "I want to make all-state. Stats probably do matter, but I don't think a number defines if you had a good season."

Added Lozano: "We thought he was a borderline all-state candidate last year, and he didn't get it. That's the challenge for him this season. He's hungry to prove he's that level of player."

For Herrera, training for baseball starts at the conclusion of football season and runs through the summer. He feels he has to change the way he trains due to the physical nature of football.

"Football has made me more athletic in general," Herrera said. "Football training is a lot more physical and strength-training based. Baseball is more making sure you're fast and nimble."

Herrera has no issue holding himself accountable, and often finds time to workout on his own in the offseason. Herrera puts himself through a consistent five-day routine.

"Mondays are squat and quad-based," Herrera said. "Tuesday is for my chest, Wednesday is for explosive movements, Thursday is arms and Friday is another day for twitchy, explosive movements."

Herrera hopes that work will lead to more stolen bases. He has yet to attempt a steal this season, but Herrera stole 10 bags in 12 attempts last summer.

"I'm not the most aggressive base runner," Herrera said. "I don't hold back or anything, but that's something I could definitely do better."

Herrera enjoys using his brain to steal bases more than pure speed. As a base runner, he is looking for down angles on pitches in the dirt and trying to time the pitcher's break to the plate.

Rangers teammate Jace Moniz recently said Herrera is due for a breakout season and holds the potential to be one of the best players in Wyoming. Herrera said it feels great to have that confidence from teammates, but he has to prove it on the field first.

Lozano agreed with Moniz, mentioning Herrera's ability to use all five tools as a player. His tendency to take what's given to him stands out to the coach.

"His ability to go the opposite way and hit the ball to all areas of the field is a plus," Lozano said. "So, wherever the ball is pitched, he's going to take it."

Herrera understands baseball season is long and will inevitably have it's ebbs-and-flows. He is a player who won't get too high or too low and is always looking forward to the next game.

"You have to remember how long the baseball season is," Herrera said. "One bad play or game doesn't define who you are as a player or how the season is going to go."

The Rangers (1-3 overall, 0-0 Class AA) will host the Colorado Travelers for a doubleheader at noon and 2 p.m. Sunday at Cowboy Field.

Austin Edmonds covers Laramie High, University of Wyoming and community athletics for WyoSports. He can be reached at Follow him on X at @_austinedmonds.