Paul Paez likes to think he is a "Pequeño gigante" (A big little man).
"I am 5-6 (tall), but I pitch like I am six feet," said Paez, a former baseball standout at Bishop Amat High School who lives in Baldwin Park.
"All my life I have been this height, but in my eyes I feel I am larger than I portray."
For all of June and July, Paez is competing about 3,000 miles east of his home.
He quickly excelled in the 2012 Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League, and is living with a host family about 80 miles east of New York City.
The talented lefthander is the first pitcher to win four games in the seven-team Hamptons division and has won half the victories for Southampton (a 8-8 team record).
Paez totals 38 strikeouts in his first 24 innings and allowed only two earned runs.
"I am throwing strikes, getting ahead (of the opposing batters)," said Paez. "I can get myself out of adversity. . . . Even without my best stuff, I can get outs, and I give credit to my defense."
Southampton head coach Rob Cafiero said Paez has emerged the Hamptons' most impressive pitcher in June.
"He is a polished pitcher," said Cafiero. "He got drafted (by the New York Mets in the 18th round) and he deserved to get drafted. He's got big league stuff. He throws four pitches for strikes consistently on both sides of the plate and not that many college pitchers can do that."
Paez has sparkled despite not pitching in a regulation game for more than a year.
After earning the 2010 pitcher of the year award for the Del Ray League and a 13-2 record as a senior for Bishop Amat, he joined the University of San Diego team.
In 2011, he was named a freshman All-America and posted a 7-4 record for USD. Hoping to transfer to a bigger NCAA Division I program, he relocated to Rio Hondo Community College in Whittier, but needed to sit out the 2012 college season due to NCAA regulations.
Looking to re-establish himself, Paez was eager to fly to the East Coast to gain a new opportunity.
"I was looking for some place to play and to get some innings in and work on my stuff," said Paez. "To pitch against live hitters and getting competition; making sure I am still pitching."
Now, he says, his Southampton teammates, trust him.
"They say 'Do what you do. Let's get a win,'" said Paez. "That is kind of the vibe I am getting lately. (Pitching a strong game)) is kind of expected now. The team comes first."
Southampton shortstop Rob Scott, who has played in the Hamptons for the last three summers, said Paez' repeated superior skills are a repeated boost to the Breakers.
"His main thing is his confidence in his mound presence," said Scott. "Every time he steps on the field, he is out there to do his job and it rubs off on the rest of us and it makes us more confident. . . . . His changeup is one of the best I've seen in my college career."
Paez really became aware of his pitching ability during his freshman year at Bishop Amat.
He credits his pitching coach, Christopher Beck, and Amat head coach Andy Nieto for their teaching and guidance.
"(Beck) really taught me the game of baseball: how to grasp it and to execute to the best of my ability," said Paez. "The biggest contribution is the mental part of the game. . . . To stay calm."
A record setter for Bishop Amat, Paez built a combined 34 -5 record in his three varsity seasons. As a sophomore, he dazzled opponents with a undefeated 11-0 record and 0.80 ERA and was named the Del Ray League pitcher of the year.
During his senior season, he earned first-team All-CIF honors and was a first-team All San Gabriel Valley selection.
Paez hopes to soon enjoy a family reunion. He said his parents and grandmother plan to travel from the LA area to see him pitch for Southampton.