Our Staff

Next Level Catching Academy prides itself on being a grass-roots organization.  Our philosophy and teaching practices vary pending on the ages of our catchers and our instructors have experience with the very foundational levels and specialize in college-prospect and collegiate catchers.

All of our instructors are passionate about catching and impacting the next generation of catchers.  All instructors have successfully played at the collegiate level with three having professional playing experience.  NLCA is also very blessed in bringing out guest instructors that bring a different and fresh perspective to the instructional strategies used.

Our philosophy of teaching is to communicate clearly, demonstrate and to give our catchers repetitions with instant feedback which lead to the creation of new efficient habits.  

We understand how to teach, manipulate movements and press the next phase of skill-mastery as catchers commit to our training.  Our coaches are well-versed in the use of video analysis and have become experts using technology to reinforce, review and teach skill-acquisition. 

As great as our instructors are, the hero in your journey is still you, the catcher.  When you commit to train with consistency our system of teaching will help guide you past those who will rely on natural talent and a limited understanding of the position.  We will be your guide as you win the battle behind the plate.


August 2011, coaching at Wrigley Field in Chicago at the Under Armour All-American game.

Justin Duarte

If you ask Coach Justin Duarte, he would tell you he has been greatly blessed to have had such amazing experiences through baseball.  Each level and period of either playing or coaching has brought about many areas of personal growth and knowledge about this great game of baseball.  Coaching other catchers is a passion of his and is the reason behind creating this program exclusively for catchers.  With 18 years of coaching experience, he has spent countless hours researching and testing out the best methods to teach and refine the skills unique to this position.

Justin had a tremendous playing career which began at Charter Oak High School (Covina, CA) and continued at Azusa Pacific University (Azusa, CA), where he was a 2-time All-Conference and All-American catcher.  The Philadelphia Phillies drafted him in the 22nd round of the 1999 MLB Amateur Draft.  He finished a 4-year professional baseball career in 2002 with the San Diego Padres, and continued a coaching career that had begun while playing professionally.

Justin’s passion for the catching position came at the young age of 12 while playing Pony League, but his true passion for the position grew during his playing days at Azusa Pacific University.  His position coach, Scott Winterburn, infused in him the love for catching as they spent days, months, and years fine-tuning all aspects of the game behind the plate.  Eventually, this proved to be a tremendous asset in his professional baseball career, as he adjusted his game, excelling to be a defensive catcher who reached Double-A with the San Diego Padres.  There were key coaches at the pro level who made a significant impact on his knowledge of the position, each adding a unique element into his practice and philosophy of catching.

Duarte has held various coaching positions at Azusa Pacific University, Univ. of La Verne and as a head coach at Ontario Christian High School.  He has also served as a West Coast Regional Scout for the Baseball Factory/Under Armour Baseball since 2007, where he has worked to evaluate as many as 2,000 high school baseball players a year.

JD served as head coach (and one year as an assistant coach)  in the California Collegiate League for the FCA So. Cal Catch.  The team is comprised of mostly Division I/II college baseball players, whose focus is on developing their baseball abilities while having an emphasis on spiritual discipleship.  JD served as an assistant coach at Mt. SAC, where he took on a wide role assisting with recruiting, video analysis, offensive development of players, and leading the catching crew.   The staff worked tirelessly to get the program back on top and the Mounties have finished in the top 4 and top 8 teams in the state in 2018 and 2019.

Most recently, JD was honored to fill the coaching vacancy for the  2019 spring season as the Interim Head Baseball coach at NCAA DII, Biola University.  He took the reigns four weeks prior to opening day and finished the season with a 29-19 record.  JD and the coaching staff invested in the lives of each young man in a Biola uniform and were proud to help each student-athlete reach their potential on and off the field.

Coach Duarte has been featured on a number of coaching podcasts and was a keynote speaker at the 2018 Catcher Con in Nashville, Tennessee.  Catcher Con continues to be one of the leading influencers in all of baseball bringing depth of knowledge to all coaches and catchers. 

Coach Duarte is also part of the southern California crew for USA Baseball and the National Team Identification Series.  He continues to assist with on-field events and evaluations for The Baseball Factory.  A nation-wide organization that hosts tournaments and builds profiles for student-athletes looking to play at the college-level. 


Anthony Esquer

Coach Esquer has filled some huge shoes as a few NLCA instructors have moved away to coach college baseball.  He brings a wealth of experience and depth to a coaching staff that prides itself on connecting with catchers.  Tony was a standout catcher locally out of Whittier Christian High School and received a scholarship to play at local Div. II power Cal Poly Pomona where he was CCAA All-Conference in 2005-2006 and received NCAA Div. II West Region Honors in 2006.  Tony contributed substantially for the Broncos before being drafted in the 24th round by the Cincinnati Reds.  Tony went on to play three seasons of affiliated baseball with the Reds and he concluded his final two seasons in the Northern Independent League.  Tony, was an assistant and head baseball coach for a pair of years at Ontario Christian High School, and now serves as a teacher and coach at nearby Nogales High School.


Andy Martinez

Andy was first a part of NLCA as a student and has transitioned into a solid figure in the catching academy.  He was a standout catcher a Don Lugo High school and began honing his skills and attending camps from 2012 through 2014.  Andy moved on to play collegiately at Div. III program, University of La Verne, where he would train and join the coaching staff at selective camps as a guest instructor.  Andy has since finished his college playing days and is another NLCA instructor who is developing his pedigree as a college coach.  Andy is assisting at Rio Hondo Community College and has been an integral part of our staff since 2018.


San Francisco State All-Time hits leader, Mark Lindsay 2012-2016

Mark Lindsay

Mark is another NLCA instructor who has continued to develop as a college coach.  His journey with NLCA began in the very first class of students that began training in the academy back in 2010.  As a three-year starter at nearby Bonita High School, Mark worked without ceasing at his craft behind the dish.  Lindsay then went on to star at Div. II San Francisco State where he started from 2012–15.   He earned All-CCAA honors for four consecutive years and was the first Gator to win the conference’s Freshman of the Year award. A two-time San Francisco State Male Athlete of the Year recipient, Lindsay left the program with a career .310 batting average and as the Gators’ all-time leader in hits (213), at-bats (688), and games played (192). He also ranks in the school’s career top 10 in walks and RBI’s. Lindsay played professionally for a pair of seasons with the San Rafael Pacifics of the independent Pacific Association.  He went on to coach at Div. III schools such as the Univ. of La Verne (2016), Pomona Pitzer (2017-2018) and he spent the 2019 season taking on a large role in the coaching staff at Div. II Biola University.  Coach Lindsay is still active coaching camps when his schedule is free, but he has since moved up north as an assistant coach for Dave Taylor at Chico St where he has taken the role of lead assistant for Chico State.

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Paul Coppes

  • Azusa Pacific University
  • 2-time All-Conference
  • NAIA All-American

Paul Coppes had a solid playing career behind the plate which began at Rowland High School (Rowland Heights, CA) and continued at Azusa Pacific University (Azusa, CA), where he was a 2-time All-Conference and All-American catcher.  During his Junior Year, Paul committed zero errors while hitting .415, to earn 1st Team All-America Catcher.

Paul, like Justin Duarte, was a catching disciple of his position coach, Scott Winterburn. Years of training and being challenged allowed Paul to become a master of the position. Paul was able to take his skills and play two years of minor league baseball, before focusing on coaching.

Paul’s coaching career began and Chaffey Community College. After Chaffey, Paul spent 3 years coaching at Azusa Pacific. In the summers of 1999 and 2000, Paul was the pitching coach for the Chatman A’s (now Chatman Anglers) under Cape Cod League Hall of Fame manager, John Schiffner, for those two seasons, Paul’s pitching staff led the Cape Cod League in ERA, Strikeouts, walks allowed and Saves. He was blessed to work with many future big leaguers and the “Cape Cod League Pitcher of the Year”.

Paul is a full-time special education teacher in Capistrano Unified School District. In 2012, he earned Capistrano Unified School District Middle School Teacher of the Year and a Semi-Finalist for Orange County Teacher of the Year.  Coach Coppes had a strong run for 16 years as the director for the Mark Creese School of Baseball in Orange County.  He has recently taken up a new endeavor with TC Baseball, an up and coming travel ball organization based out of Mission Viejo.

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Mario Romero

Mario (Speedo) completed a 2-year tenure as the catching instructor at Mt. SAC.  Speedo has been very active in coaching helping catapult the San Gabriel Valley Arsenal from 2010-20018.  Most recently, Mario is building his own brand of baseball as he and his staff are getting the CA Armada off the ground starting in the fall of 2019.   Mario played three years at Vanguard University in Costa Mesa after playing a season at Cerritos College.  Mario has been working as an instructor with NLCA since early in 2013 and he continues to play a larger and larger role on the staff.

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Coach Javi Ochoa at 2014 PFA Pitchers/Catchers Showcase

Javier Ochoa/Mike Surina

This pair of coaches played a pivotal role as two of the original three that started this program for catchers in 2010.

Javi had previous coaching stints at Mt. San Antonio College, Diamond Bar HS, and Chino HS as a catching instructor.  Javi has experience working with baseball players of all ages, as he has put in consistent time working multiple Creese Camps in Southern California since 2008 and has more recently been logging hours with The Baseball Factory, managing teams in their tournaments and serving as tournament scout and growing with his responsibilities.   Javi was a standout at Chino HS and went on to earn a scholarship to catch at Azusa Pacific University where he concluded his playing career.  Coach Ochoa brings extensive knowledge and creativity to our clinics and was a fixture since the beginning of our catching camps.

Coach Mike Surina has continued his love for coaching here in the Inland Empire.  After a great four-year run as the head coach at Chino HS, Mike had a great opportunity to coach at college level and he hasn’t looked back.  Mike has been an assistant coach at nearby Pomona-Pitzer since 2020 and has earned a great role as the recruiting coordinator for the Sagehens.  Surina is another one of those difference-making coaches who’s abilities continue to evolve beyond the catching position and extends so many other leadership areas in baseball.  


Cal Baptist Alum and Catcher- Matt Deleon

Matt DeLeon

Matt DeLeon joined us in the fall of 2014 and has been a steady fixture in our rotation of instructors.  He came to us after finishing his playing career at Cal Baptist University.  Coach Matt spent 2015-2019 coaching at southern California power, St. John Bosco.  In the summer of 2019, Matt was hired as an assistant coach at Div. II San Francisco State.  He continues to further his coaching career and has been a great fit for our crew over the years.

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Cal Baptist Alum and Catcher- Matt Deleon

Coach Avila and Joe Winterburn

Guest Instructors

We will also be having guest instructors who rotate clinics consistently.  A few of these have come out to instruct at many of our clinics.

Rob Avila- Current Asst. Coach at UC San Diego and former Head Coach at Palm Beach Atlantic (NCAA Div. 2).  Rob played professionally with the Philadelphia Phillies (AA level) after being drafted in the 1999 MLB Draft from The Masters’ College in Santa Clarita.

Joe Winterburn has been an outstanding addition to the mix of instructors with NLCA.   Joe started his college career at UCSB and finished at Univ. of La Verne, where he earned All-Conference honors.  He went on to play two seasons with the Boston Red Sox and has been a tremendous fit for NLCA the past few years.