"Oh, shoot," the surprised student said. "That's Jose Reyes!"
Reyes, along with Marlins teammates Carlos Zambrano, Omar Infante, Edward Mujica and bullpen catcher Jeff Urgulles, visited the middle school in West Miami as part of Marlins@School week, which began Tuesday and runs through Friday.
This is the 10th consecutive year the Marlins have participated in Marlins@School week. In all, players, coaches and broadcasters will visit 16 different schools in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.
Marlins@School is an online program produced by Paton Publishing, in conjunction with the Marlins, and it is used to assist educators in teaching Florida's required standards in language arts, science, math, physical education and geography. The downloadable program can be accessed at www.MarlinsAtSchool.com, and it is available at no cost to teachers. All of the web-based chapters comply with FCAT requirements and are centered on the 2012 Marlins.
Dawn Garcia, who teaches science at Paul W. Bell Middle School, said her class uses Marlins@School to show the students how things like kinetic and potential energy and balanced and unbalanced forces can be applied to sports and the real world, not just in the classroom.
Reyes visited Garcia's sixth-grade class Thursday and answered questions from Garcia's 16 students for about half an hour. Questions ranged from the broad, like how he prepares for games, to the specific, what he thought about Giancarlo Stanton's two grand slams this season. Many students even traced their baseball-related questions back to science.
"I just try to be a symbol for the kids and let them know what they need to do to get to the next level," Reyes said. "I didn't have the opportunity in the Dominican [Republic] to have somebody like me to go and talk to us in the Dominican. Now I have the opportunity to be blessed and talk to the kids, that's something I enjoy a lot."
Reyes took pictures with the class and signed everything from baseballs and gloves to the back of a student's cell phone case while mascot Billy the Marlin crashed the party and posed for photos, too.
So on a dark and rainy Miami morning, the Marlins brightened the students' -- and teachers' -- day.
"It was amazing. It was like a dream come true," said 13-year-old Ayan Rodriguez, who was smiling ear-to-ear during Reyes' entire visit. "I can't even describe it, it's amazing."
Tom Green is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.