Home Sports Local Sports Rhett Stokes stays home, signs with NMMI

Rhett Stokes stays home, signs with NMMI

Rhett Stokes (Heidi Johnson Gray Photo)

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

It will be a shame if Roswell shortstop Rhett Stokes cannot continue to make shortstop his home at Joe Bauman Field like he has for the last four years. Roswell fans were used to seeing Rhett glide to his right and with an outstretched left hand, glove the ball, gather himself and throw an opposing hitter out at first base by a step.

Rhett Stokes makes a play at shortstop. (Brittany Villegas Photo)

Last school year, Rhett, along with other local baseball teams, were denied the opportunity to play baseball and with that, a chance to draw the eye of college baseball scouts as well as professional scouts.

Earlier this week, Rhett took care of the bidding war for his services as he decided to stay at home and sign with NMMI. Rhett, by some scouting services, was a top prospect coming out this year. As he toured the campus, Rhett fell in love with the tradition of NMMI and what it stands for.

“It came down to the best offer,” Rhett said, “overall sports wise, academics and NMMI can offer you something that other colleges can’t: the ability to have a great job after everything is said and done.”

Rhett would like to be an architect or an engineer when he is finished playing baseball. It also meant a lot for his close family to be able to come watch him play for the next two years. Another selling point for Rhett was that he loves the discipline and structure of NMMI. Another selling point for Rhett was that NMMI plays in the Western Junior College Athletic Conference.

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“I think coach Chris Cook is a great coach,” Rhett said. “I feel like he will be able to get me to the next level once my two years are done. The overall prestigiousness of NMMI stood out to me. It’s a great facility.”

For Rhett, he feels like not being able to play baseball last school year due to coronavirus restrictions hurt him in not being able to improve from the repetition of playing.

He’s been working out with his team in pods, and with his brother in case there is a season. One of the things Rhett feels like he will have to do is get stronger to play at the next level. He also wants to become a better hitter at the next level.

“After a killer fall and some great offers, he decided to stay home and get after it for coach Cook,” Mike McGaha, Rhett’s 4-Corners baseball travel coach said. “NMMI might have landed one of the top five players in New Mexico Tuesday. NMMI and coach Cook won big on this guy.”

One of the things that current Roswell coach Tyrell Curtis brought to Roswell baseball was a lifting and conditioning program, which has helped Rhett get stronger. Rhett has started since his freshman year for former coach Carlos Marrujo III. The major takeaway the baseball program has given him is confidence to be the player he feels he can be.

“I think NMMI is a great choice for Rhett,” Curtis said. “He has every chance to play right away as a freshman. I think NMMI will set him up for success not only while he is there, but in the future both playing and academically. As an Alum of NMMI I think they are getting a great baseball player and person. Coach Cook is getting one of the best players in the state.

“As for his Senior year I think he is like all of us just wants to play and finish what he has started at Roswell High.I think he has a chance to be one of many seniors to help us make a run and strides to what Roswell High School baseball can be.”

One of the biggest things for the Stokes family is that Rhett will be a fourth-generation Coyote, which is a big deal to his mother. He has a chance to play with his best friend and brother, Ross. The team coming back is a senior-laden team this season and is expected to contend for a playoff spot.

“Nothing would be done without my family,” Rhett said. “It’s a family effort of course. It takes all four of us to get it done.”

Rhett’s favorite baseball memory was in his freshman year when he went 4-for-4. In that game, he hit three triples and a double to defeat Artesia in a district game at Joe Bauman Stadium to help put Roswell into the playoffs.

Rhett has learned from his father, Kyle, that if you are going to do something the right way, you might as well do it the first time. And from his mother, Julie Stokes, just to be himself.

“I would like to be a good person,” Rhett said, “I would like to be someone that people can look up to and respect as I leave high school.”

Sports editor J.T. Keith can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 304, or sports@rdrnews.com.

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