LMC catcher dreams of going pro

Rocha tells his story

Aliyah Ramirez, Staff Writer

Since Bubba Rocha was young, he was drawn to baseball–from watching his favorite players, Buster Posey and Yadier Molina succeed on the field. Initially, he saw the sport as a pastime, but it was not until he began to play competitively, that it evolved into a dream of going pro. 

Within the competitive sports environment, Rocha played in school and travel ball, competing at the same level and sometimes better than other players around his age, leading him to “never look back.”

Part of the Los Medanos Baseball Program since he was a freshman, Rocha continues to stay motivated for his team, coaches and parents. Consistently working to better his game and learn from past teammates, Rocha aspires to reach the D1 level and secure the chance to play in the Major Leagues. 

“I compare myself to past teammates and see how far they can get. It shows me that going to the D1 level is possible,” said Rocha. “When I see these things being an achievable goal and other people are able to do it, you don’t have to be superhuman to go D1.”

Working towards becoming a well-rounded player is not easy, especially when contrasting opinions about oneself overtake. The transition from high school to college baseball was a drastic change for Rocha as the competition heightened. 

Playing at the junior college level, Rocha initially viewed each game as a “last chance,” fixated on his mistakes instead of his accomplishments. However, as a more experienced player, Rocha focuses on being more comfortable on the field and calming his mindset. 

“Don’t let the game speed you up,” described Rocha. “Find ways to bring yourself back to what we call green, which is ‘be calm.’”

Rocha’s role on the team has evolved in his second year–from a designated hitter to leading roles both offensively and defensively. Now, Rocha plays as a catcher with a secondary position as an outfielder but did not know this would be where his season would begin.

The team faced multiple injuries at the top of the season, leaving vacant positions and quick replacements. Rocha was now behind the plate as he stepped up to be a catcher. Working with his assistant coach took him out of his comfort zone and built up the skills in his new position.

“He completely changed how I thought about catching, and I feel that improved how I received the ball and my whole perspective on catching,” said Rocha.

Halfway through their 2022-23 season, Rocha describes the start as a “learning curve,” with a new coaching staff and roles to fill on the team. Yet, despite the changes, Los Medanos holds a 10-6 record, leading with the most wins in the Bay Valley Conference. 

While adapting to the new season, Matt Lisle became the new head coach in his 23rd year of coaching. After graduating as a past LMC student and growing up within the athletic department, it meant a lot for Lisle to return to a familiar team.  

Lisle plans to incorporate strong values into the baseball program, focusing on developing “tough-minded, fearless competitors and [to] train them to be leaders for excellence and significance.” Reflected in Rocha’s current role from player to one of the captains of the team, he has been able to be the leader he once looked up to when he began. 

“Bubba has a lot of strengths, but one that stands out to me is his servant leadership,” said Lisle. “Even as a captain, he approaches leadership with the attitude of helping his teammates get better.”

When describing his team, Rocha sees them as “family” and built on a dynamic to “play for each other,” as he knows how to react and hold players accountable for playing in a strong season.

As LMC’s baseball performance continues strong, Rocha plans to commit to a school by this summer. He has gathered attention from college coaches for his performances offensively and defensively, with his top school being UC Riverside. However, he tries to “not be satisfied” and to “keep progressing through the season” as he works to take the sport he loves to the Major Leagues.