Omar Prieto signs professional contract; will play in Argentina

Omar Prieto was a member of the 2015 CCC Dukes Baseball team
Omar Prieto was a member of the 2015 CCC Dukes Baseball team

Cumberland County College Athletics is excited to announce that former Dukes catcher/utility player, Omar Prieto, has officially signed to play professionally in Argentina. He is the 5th former Duke to sign a professional contract since 2015 and now joins Will Latcham, Anthony Lopez, Cody Stashak, and Joe Zanghi at the professional level. On reaching a lifelong goal, Prieto shared, "It is a good feeling knowing the fact that you will get up everyday to play the sport you love. This is definitely a dream come true."

Omar arrived on the Vineland campus in 2015, which would be his only season in Navy and Gold, but that would not deter his goal to have immediate impact. A switch-hitting catcher and infielder, Omar quickly inserted himself as a leader and respected teammate. As a sophomore joining a team coming off a National Championship berth and the best year in program history, Prieto could not sit idly by and wait for a teammate to take lead. Raul Perez was a young, raw freshman infielder when Prieto arrived. "Omar is one of the most humble guys I have ever met. He's the type of guy you want in your dugout, always brings energy to the game, and he always knew how to make me laugh." Perez said. Raul completed his career with Cumberland in 2016 and has since graduated from Goldey Beacom College in Delaware and was an all-conference performer for the Lightning. Perez added, "Omar helped me a lot my freshman year of college. I didn't know what to expect as a freshman so it was nice having him as a teammate and roommate. When things weren't going well, he knew exactly what to tell me and how to push me." Lastly, Perez wanted to add this last tidbit about his former roommate: "We didn't know how to cook when we first moved in. The first time we cooked rice, we burned it. Eventually we got good at it and shared most of our food, but he knows I am the better chef! Ya tu sabe!"

During the 2015 campaign, Prieto hit .312 and was third on the team in RBIs with 25. He also held a dazzling .939 fielding percentage while splitting time between Catcher, Second Base, Shortstop, and Third base. What makes his career more impressive was that he missed significant portions of the season due to injury. Despite what many would consider an unfulfilled season, Prieto knew he squeezed every ounce of his Cumberland experience that included helping the Dukes return to the Region XIX Championship Game and finish with a 36-9 record. On his only season at Cumberland, Prieto said, "My season at CCC was special. It was a learning experience and everyday I learned something new from the coaching staff and, most especially, from my teammates". Omar would move on to NAIA Concordia University - Ann Arbor in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

The CUAA Cardinals would be a force with Omar in the program as they would win 30 games or more during his career, including a 42-13 campaign in 2018. Healthy, Omar started in nearly every game for the Cardinals during his career and he would perform admirably. Prieto would knock around 161 career hits, drive in 113 RBIs, and deliver 9 career HRs during his time in Ann Arbor. Highlights for Prieto's career with Concordia-Ann Arbor include his sparkling .996 fielding percentage in 2017, which he would follow up with a .980 percentage in 2018 as well as hitting two walk-off home runs within a week at the tail end of March of the 2018 season. On March 27, Prieto would deliver his first walk-off home run, a 3-run shot to defeat Lawrence Technological University 8-6, and he would play hero again on March 31st with a solo walk-off home run against Cleary University to win 7-6. It would be a strong senior season to end a wonderful collegiate career.

Cumberland County College Head Baseball Coach Keith Gorman had this to say about Omar: "One of the best things about Omar is that we were never concerned about him. There were never any concerns off the field, concerns if he was working hard enough, or concerns whether there were any issues with him and his teammates. He was always upbeat and ready to play. Omar represents the best of our program and he deserves to live out his dream as a professional baseball player. Our program, staff, and community could not be more proud of him."

Prieto could not be more proud to be a member of the Cumberland Athletics family. "CCC to me is the best developing 'Juco' (Junior College) out there. I highly recommend it to all athletes, not just baseball". He also wanted to send a message to every ballplayer that doubts they can achieve their dream of being in professional baseball. "Never give up on your dreams and embrace the daily grind with a positive attitude".

After seeing Omar live by those words daily, current and future players would be mistaken if they did not follow suit.