Friday, August 9, 2019

Williamsport's Iser has American aspirations

Herbert Iser, image- MiLB.com
Herbert Iser would have already taken strides toward becoming a citizen of the United States if it wasn't for the Phillies drafting him a couple of months ago.

The talented backstop was hopeful to make progress in that regard, but signed his first professional contract after he was selected in the 23rd round in this year's amateur draft got in the way.

"I was in the process, but being drafted and all that stuff, I couldn't make it to the appointment I had, so hopefully in the off-season, maybe, I'll be a dual citizen with Jamaica and America," Iser said in a recent phone interview.

A Citizen of Jamaica, currently, Iser's family has a remarkable background. 

Not wanting to live under a dictatorship, Iser's parents, Alfredo Iser and Maria Olivero, fled Cuba for more favorable conditions in Jamaica in 1996.  A year and a half later, Herbert was born, named after his father's employer, Jamaican Minister of Health Dr. Herbert Eldemire.

"He's deceased now, but when my family went from Cuba to Jamaica, he helped my family out.  He housed us," Iser explained.

A product of Dallas Baptist University, the same school that produced other recent Phillies draftees such as Autin Listi, Darick Hall, David Martinelli and Eric White, Iser batted .280 with seven home runs and 34 RBI in 52 games played for the Patriots this year as a junior.

The lefty batter had also been drafted last year, following two years at San Jacinto (junior) College, in the 24th round by Baltimore.  He chose not to sign, instead transferring to DBU.

His parents, who instilled a religious focus in the six-foot-three 210-pounder, now live apart and are currently both United States residents, but are his biggest fans.  While dad knows the sport very well, Iser's mom, described as the brain of the family, isn't as astute when it comes to baseball.

"She'll call me every day and talk to me about how I did, but she doesn't really get it," Iser explained.  "If I got a couple hits or something she'll say, 'You got a couple home runs!'"

Iser debuted in the minor leagues in June, playing in five games with the Gulf Coast League Phillies West team.  After going 8-for-16 with two doubles, two triples and three RBI, he was promoted to the Class A short-season Williamsport Crosscutters.

In 19 games there, in the New York-Penn League, Iser isn't enjoying the same success to date.  He's tallied a .156 average with two doubles, a triples, two homers and five RBI.

Despite the less than ideal results the 21-year-old Iser doesn't feel overwhelmed by the latest level.  In fact, he feels college ball prepared him very well for the grind of pro baseball. 

"Just, right now, I think things aren't going my way, 'cause I'm seeing the ball fine," Iser said.  "I'm hitting the ball solid.  Just right now we're at the point where I need to make adjustments.  There's nothing that's too overwhelming."

While he works to get his offensive results to a more appealing level, Iser, who has garnered attention for his defense and arm strength, is able to give his game the full attention it deserves.  The Phillies have an employee, Ray Robles, who, in the role of Assistance Director of International Relations, has been able to help Iser with all the processes and paperwork involved with all the legalities and paperwork.

On top of making Iser's dreams of playing professional baseball comes, the organization is also working with him on another big aspiration of acquiring that dual citizenship.

"It's very important," Iser said.  "It means the world to me.  I look at it as they see me as a person and really care." 


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