EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – In 2019, 13-year MLB veteran Joe Beimel and 9-year pro Brent Dean, with the help of fellow former professional baseball player Cody Decker, opened up the second ever Beimel Elite Athletics facility.
The original Beimel Elite Athletics sits in the beautiful South Bay of Los Angeles in Torrance, California. The second location is right here in El Paso, Texas.
“It’s everything I wish I had at a professional level,” Dean said. “We are providing it to the high school, collegiate, and young professionals.”
Every day for about the last four years, you can find local ball players working on their craft. Beimel Elite Athletics has provided many players the opportunity to reach new heights in their games and careers.
Most recently, Mitch Stone, Rene Mendoza, Drew Marrufo, and John Figueroa worked their ways up to a professional level of baseball after they thought their playing days were over at one point.
“With these four guys specifically, they’ve all come to us at a point where they are almost lost in their careers,” Dean said. “They did not have a great collegiate opportunity, never made it past junior college baseball, got cut, or really did not see a future in baseball.”
“For them, the consistency in their work, their efforts they put in, and then being able to have the accountability of a system like ours with the technology, the training, the experience and the network we have with recruiting and scouting just changed their entire trajectory for their career,” Dean said. “It’s just a dream come true for these guys to be able to play professional baseball, step on a field, call themselves a pro, and for all of their hard work, the payoff is something we’re super excited for them about.”
Mitch Stone, a Franklin High School graduate, was slated to start his collegiate career at UT Rio Grande Valley, but then he changed his mind and decided to go the JUCO route instead. Stone went to Grayson College for a year and a half before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down his first season. Stone then transferred over to El Paso Community College for another year and a half before he decided to hang up the spikes.
“I quit baseball. I was not really feeling like playing anymore,” Stone said. “I got a job and started working in the steel industry.”
It didn’t take long for Stone to realize that wasn’t the lifestyle he wanted. So, in August of 2022, Stone left his job in the steel industry and reached out to Dean to see if he could intern at Beimel Elite Athletics.
Dean then gave Stone the opportunity to join the staff at the facility. While working at Beimel, Stone would train and that is where is love for the game was rejuvenated.
“I was putting on velo. I was like, ‘wow, how is this happening?'” Stone said. “Last year at EPCC, I was only throwing around 88 miles per hour and now I’m throwing like 95, 96 miles per hour and I’m like, messing around.”
Stone decided to take his training more serious and that kicked back up his drive to go play professional baseball. After months of intense training, Stone earned the opportunity to begin his professional baseball career. In February of 2023, Stone signed a contract to pitch with the Ogden Raptors. The Raptors play in the Pioneer League, an independent baseball league that is a partner league of Major League Baseball.
Rene Mendoza, an El Dorado High School graduate, started his collegiate career at El Paso Community College. His first season in 2021 was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Mendoza then spent half the fall at EPCC before he decided it was time to stop playing baseball and move onto the next chapter of his life.
Mendoza left EPCC in Dec. 2021 and started working at a local car wash in Feb. 2022.
“That whole reality check of working a regular job, going in every day, clocking in, clocking out, you know, and just repeating that day. I just felt like I had to get out of that cycle,” Mendoza said. “I was just really missing baseball and it was just driving me crazy.”
Mendoza’s love for the game, and hatred of washing cars, drove him to Beimel Elite Athletics as an intern in late 2022. Just like Stone, Mendoza would train at Beimel Elite and saw massive improvements in his game.
In April 2023, Mendoza attended a Pioneer Baseball League tryout and was picked up by the Boise Hawks as a catcher.
Mendoza wasn’t the only athlete out of Beimel Elite Athletics at the Pioneer Baseball League tryouts in April. His friend, Drew Marrufo, was also in attendance.
Out of high school, Marrufo attended and played at the University of New Mexico. He redshirted his freshman year in the 2017-18 season. In the 2018-19 season, Marrufo pitched 13 total innings for the Lobos. Right before the start of the 2019-20 season, Marrufo was cut from the team as part of the Lobos’ rebuild year and entered the NCAA transfer portal.
In the middle of 2020, Marrufo started training at Beimel Elite Athletics in El Paso and earned a shot to finish up his collegiate career at Central Methodist University (NAIA). Marrufo graduated in May 2022, returned to El Paso and restarted his training at Beimel.
Marrufo’s hard work led him to an opportunity to show out at the Pioneer Baseball League tryouts in April. Marrufo impressed and was picked up by the Boise Hawks, the same team Mendoza was selected by, as the first overall pick of the PBL Draft.
John Figueroa, an Eastwood High School graduate, started his collegiate career at Midland College for the 2018-19 season. Figueroa then made the move to Lubbock Christian for the 2019-2020 season. Figueroa saw his 2020 season get cancelled after 24 games due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the summer of 2020, Figueroa returned to El Paso, started taking classes at UTEP, began working out at Beimel Elite Athletics, got an internship position there and after about a year as an intern, he was promoted to Director of Player Development.
During all this time, Figueroa continued to pursue his dreams of playing professional baseball. Figueroa’s dream came true earlier this year when he signed with the Cleburne Railroaders of the American Association. The American Association, just like the Pioneer Baseball League, is an independent baseball league that is a partner league of Major League Baseball.
So, the dream of playing professional baseball has come true for all four of them, but that’s not all they want to accomplish. They all have goals of playing their way onto an affiliated Minor League team and then to the Majors.
“Ever since I was little, I always had that one goal of being able to call myself a professional,” Figueroa said. “Here I am now, and I got the opportunity to do it.”
“All the things I’ve been through can be a little discouraging, but we’re in here every day and I am just glad that I got that opportunity, and I am just ready to take advantage of it.” Mendoza said.
“I feel like all the adversity made me mentally stronger and I feel like that will help me in pro ball because there’s ups and downs.” Stone said.
“Not a lot of people have the opportunity to continue their playing career after high school or college, so just to be able to continue playing the game I love is a real big blessing.” Maruffo said.
All four just recently started their seasons with their respective ball clubs.