For Boys' Latin junior Mark Lopez, it's all about statistics and numbers. They are at the center of his two main pursuits and passions: Baseball and finance. He has a gift for both.
"Math has always stood out for me so much," Lopez said. "Numbers have always clicked for me."
In preparing to major in finance in college, Lopez will be taking advanced placement courses in calculus, physics and English this fall. Lopez, who carries a 4.2 grade-point average, plans to become an accountant or a financial adviser.
"Ever since I was little, money has always been important for me for some reason," said Lopez, who would like to attend Johns Hopkins or the University of Maryland. "I am into saving money. Whatever money I get, I always put in the bank."
Lopez also pays close attention to his numbers in baseball — batting average, on-base percentage, etc. His numbers in high school this past season put him in position to play in the Maryland State Association of Baseball Coaches second annual Maryland Cup for 2016 and 2017 high school graduates.
Lopez, a third baseman and Towson resident, will play for the Chesapeake team. Three other county high school seniors, Calvert Hall pitcher Trevor Sprinkle, and St. Paul's outfielder Tony Shultz and catcher Spencer Horwitz will play for the Potomac team.
The two all-star squads — Team Potomac and Team Chesapeake — will play against two Virginia teams in a doubleheader Aug. 4 at Prince George's Stadium, home of the Bowie Baysox, the Baltimore Orioles' Double-A minor league affiliate.
Team Potomac has two Maryland-bound pitchers in Archbishop Spalding's Tyler Blohm and Gaitherburg's Nick Pantos.
"You really have to take your hat off to the players because they really have done something when they have made this team," said MSABC president Ty Whitaker, an Eastern Tech assistant coach who is involved in selecting the teams. "These are the elite players. The best of the best. You have 220 high schools in Maryland, and you are taking the top 40 sophomores and juniors."
Lopez played in the President's Cup, an All-Star game for Baltimore city public and private school players at in mid-April at Orioles Park at Camden Yards. He also played in the MSABC Futures game at Prince George's Stadium in late June.
He went 1-for-2 in the MSABC Futures game and had three putouts. He said this game means even more to him.
"It's the most important game I have ever played in, and I have been playing since I was little," Lopez said. "It's a like a dream. You never think of games like this where you are playing in an all-star game like this and playing alongside the best players from Maryland and facing the best from Virginia. You never think it's going to happen."
The 5-foot-10, 165-pound Lopez earned all-state honors as a sophomore this past spring, scoring 37 runs and batting .377 with 8 doubles, 3 home runs and a .529 on-base percentage for Boys' Latin (22-4).
"He has a nice compact swing and all the intangibles," Whitaker said. "He has the work ethic. He is going to get bigger, stronger and faster. You can see his game is improving. He is a kid you are going to have to watch out for."
Horwitz proved to be one of the players to watch in the MSABC Futures game. He hit a two-run homer in the North's 2-0 victory over the West.
"He hit a bomb," Whitaker said. "Everybody was like, 'Wow, look at that.' He got all of it, I will tell you that."
Horwitz's best position is catcher, but he played shortstop and second base this spring for St. Paul's. He led the Crusaders in batting average (.478) and on-base percentage (.540) and was a Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference selection.
Schultz, a center field, batted over .340 in the spring.
Sprinkle is the only pitcher of the four local players. After working mostly as Calvert Hall's closer the past two years, he is expected to be one of the Cardinals' top starting pitchers next spring.
"He has the stuff to be a Division I player," Calvert Hall coach Lou Eckerl said.
Lopez, Sprinkle, Shultz and Horwitz are eager to impress college coaches and scouts who will be watching.
"At least 75 percent of the players are undecided on where to go to college," said Team Potomac coach Ryan Wolfsheimer, who runs the baseball program at Dulaney High School. "These guys will get great exposure in this game. It's a win, win for them."