Baseball

Daniel Lingua’s baseball odyssey brings him to Gary as 25-year-old rookie

Daniel Lingua's baseball odyssey brings him to Gary as 25-year-old rookie

It’s been a long and winding road from one of the best high school baseball programs in the country to the Steel Yard for Daniel Lingua.

But seven years after graduating from Martin High in Arlington, Texas, the 25-year-old rookie has found a home with the RailCats.

Lingua has filled the super utility role that has been so key for manager Greg Tagert’s teams over the years, playing every position this summer except right field and catcher.

Through Sunday, Lingua is hitting .287 with team bests in games played (72), hits (73), RBIs (33), runs (28), doubles (14) and walks (36).

Honestly, it’s more than he or Tagert expected.

“He was an interesting sign for us,” said Tagert, adding that Lingua was recommended by someone who saw him play in the California Winter League earlier this year. “(Tagert’s friend) said, ‘This guy can can run, he switch-hits, he can play multiple positions.'”

So Tagert brought the 6-foot, 185-pounder to spring training, but with low expectations.

“Honestly, I didn’t expect him to make the club,” Tagert said. “I’m not saying he made the club because of injuries (to other players), but it certainly opened up the door. He’s been outstanding in every regard.

Lingua, meanwhile, had a simple goal at the start of the season: “Just to play my style of baseball and just come out here and have fun, enjoy the time I get out here. Since I had it taken away from me, I don’t want it to be taken away from me again.”

After graduating from Martin in 2014, Lingua played briefly for Angelina Junior College in Texas the next season, getting just 12 at-bats in nine games.

He left there for Division I Prairie View, but didn’t play either of the next two seasons.

“My transfer papers got lost and messed up,” Lingua said.

When he finally got back on the field, he was dominant, slashing .350/.489/.412 in 2018 and .402/.506/.540 for Prairie View in 2019.

“He was definitely the best player in the (Southwestern Athletic Conference),” Tagert said.

Lingua was ready to move on to the next level, but then came the pandemic.

“It’s been about two years since I really saw a baseball field,” Lingua said. “I tried to find places to play (in 2020). Some things were happening back home with the family, so I ended up just taking a year to train — really get my body in the best shape, best form possible, completely healthy — and help out at home as best (as) I could.”

With the world opening back up as the calendar flipped from 2020 to 2021, Lingua landed a spot with the Palm Springs Power of the California Winter League. He hit .311 in 16 games in January and February, and word of mouth got him to Gary.

After all that missed time, he’s thrilled to be here.

“It’s been real nice to come back out here every day and play again,” Lingua said.

And to make up for all that lost time.

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