An Edinburg Vela baseball product has decided to play his college ball at a place he’s plenty familiar with.

Edinburg Vela junior standout Jaime “Mito” Perez Jr. announced his commitment to continue his academic and athletic career at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley this week, joining a Vaqueros baseball program on the rise.

“All my life I have worked hard to get the chance to play college baseball. It means a lot to me to see that hard work really does pay off. All the late nights and early mornings were worth it,” Perez said.

During the second round of the high school baseball playoffs a season ago, UTRGV Baseball Stadium played host to a Class 6A area round matchup featuring the Edinburg Vela SaberCats and the McAllen High Bulldogs.

In Game 1 of the best-of-three series between the SaberCats and Bulldogs, Perez went 1 for 3 at the plate and drove in two Edinburg Vela runs in a 3-0 victory.

Perez also frequently attends UTRGV home games to see former Vela teammates Aaron Galvan and Ramsey Amador play.

But in two years, Perez will be suiting up in his own UTRGV uniform as he attempts to help the Vaqueros remain a force in the Western Athletic Conference.

“I am very excited; the coaching staff is amazing and I think playing here is going to be a great thing later on down the road. I can’t wait to step on that field in a Vaqueros Jersey” Perez said.

A three-year letterman with his senior year still ahead of him, Perez has proven to be a versatile player for the SaberCats who has spent most of his career behind the plate at catcher, but has also played both around the infield and outfield.

As a freshman, Perez played in 30 games for the SaberCats and posted a .377 batting average, 29 hits, 14 RBIs, five doubles and a .996 fielding percentage. Last year as a sophomore, he hit .355 with 13 RBIs and a .978 fielding percentage.

And before his junior season was cut short in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, Perez upped his game with a .512 average, 15 RBIs, 12 runs, six stolen bases, one home run, one triple and a fielding percentage of .986.

During his three years at Edinburg Vela, Perez and the SaberCats have gone 68-18 overall and reached the second and fourth rounds of the playoffs during his first two seasons.

Perez thanked his family, friends, and Lonestar Baseball Club for helping him reach this point.

“It was tough, but it was worth it and it’s not over yet still; going to keep working,” he said.

bramos@themonitor.com