Vincent’s Aiden Poe gives back through New Balance Future Stars Series in Fenway Park and Dominican Republic

Published 2:21 pm Wednesday, September 13, 2023

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By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

Vincent pitcher Aiden Poe was named to the roster for two major showcases by the New Balance Future Stars Series, and he is using the opportunity to give back while preparing to play professionally.

The 2021 Shelby County Pitcher of the Year and two-time All-County selection will play at Fenway Park, the historic home of the Boston Red Sox, in the Underclass Elite event from Oct. 6-8.

The following week, he will play in the Caribbean Classic in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic from Oct. 12-15.

To earn a spot at the showcase events, Poe went to an identification camp in Mississippi the week before Vincent’s season began, and from there, he earned his way to a national camp over the summer based on the scouts’ evaluations.

Poe will fulfill a longtime dream by playing in both Fenway Park and the Dominican Republic, especially the Dominican Republic. He believed he would never get a chance to go down to the Caribbean to play.

“When I did the first identification in Mississippi, I was talking to the guy and I was talking about how big of a dream the Dominican would be and how I thought at the time that that was unattainable, but I put in the hard work and New Balance has done a great job at helping me and seeing my work pay off,” Poe said.

The Dominican Republic’s legacy as a baseball factory was one of the aspects that drew him to want to play in the country. The small Caribbean nation has produced Hall-of-Famers such as David Ortiz, Vladimir Guerrero Sr., Albert Pujols and Pedro Martinez, as well as current players like the Guardians’ Jose Ramirez, the Mariners’ Julio Rodriguez and the Padres’ Juan Soto.

“Just the amount of players that they produce over there, and the ability that they have to produce so many major leaguers and professional players at such a smaller amount of people than the US,” Poe said. “I really want to learn how those guys work and implement that into my training.”

While Poe has used this opportunity to learn from former professional players and scouts, he has cherished the chance he has to give back through these events. As a part of qualifying for both events, Poe had to raise funds for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital in Boston and the Dominican Republic.

However, Poe doesn’t like seeing it as a requirement, but rather an opportunity.

“I don’t want to call it like I had to fundraise,” Poe said. “I like to think of it like I get to fundraise. I get to give back using my talents to raise awareness and raise money for these people in need, especially for the Future Stars Foundation, and this time around, with Boston and the Dominican St. Jude’s.”

Poe’s goal is to start a foundation to help underprivileged kids play baseball when he turns professional. The gear drive for Dominican players that the Future Stars Foundation is organizing is a great way to do just that, as baseball gear is harder to find in the country and the drive will help more kids play baseball and potentially grow up and become professional players.

Poe has leaned on the former players coaching at the Future Stars Series for advice on how to both become a better baseball player and start his foundation, especially Jeremy Booth, the head of the Future Stars Foundation.

Those former players have been brutally honest with Poe on what it takes to make it to the majors.

“They all know it’s a business, and so they’ve been very upfront with you can play for a long time, you can not play for a long time,” Poe said. “You’ve got to find something that separates you and you’ve got to be good at it, and you’ve got to know people.”

Their honest feedback has helped Poe hone his craft and make him a better player, and he appreciates that because some camps don’t operate that way.

“They were honest and they said I had spotty command with my fastball, and it fueled me to work,” Poe said. “And I went out there and I showed I’ve got the best command in Alabama. Their upfront honesty has made me a better player because as an athlete, you don’t need to hear what you want to hear, you need to hear what you need to hear.

When Poe plays at Fenway, he recognizes that it will be a big moment, but mentally, he doesn’t want the Green Monster to get into his head and instead just pitch like he’s home in Vincent.

“When I’m first there, we’re going to accept the grandness of the green wall and just really soak it in,” Poe said. “But then once it gets to game time, you’ve got to limit all those distractions. You can’t hear a fan in the crowd. You can’t hear a teammate on the other team. You can’t think about what park you’re in. You’ve got to go back to, ‘it’s just me and my buddies throwing on the field at Vincent.’”

Poe credits the support system that he has at Vincent for helping him work towards this goal. One of his biggest supporters is his football coach at Vincent, Lucas Weatherford, who Poe says advocates for his players participating in multiple sports as long as they give their best when they play football.

Poe will miss Vincent’s final home football game against regional foe Woodland to pitch in the Dominican Republic, but Weatherford and Poe both recognize what Poe is most talented at and his coach wants the best for him.

“I think it really comes down to Weatherford just being so good at understanding football’s my number two,” Poe said, “I love playing it. I love doing it with the community. I love the teammates and the culture that he’s built there. But baseball is where I think my ticket is.”

Now, Poe will have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to give him a better chance at earning that ticket to playing professional baseball and chase his dreams on and off the field.