The Pittsburgh Pirates may be going on its 17th season of losing baseball, but some of its minor league prospects offer a glimmer of hope to end that streak soon. With Pittsburgh's Double A affiliate Altoona in Akron to play the Aeros this weekend, I sought out its most heralded prospect, third baseman Pedro Alvarez for a quick Q and A. The former Vanderbilt standout would have been the first overall pick in the 2008 draft if The Tampa Bay Rays didn't already have some guy named Evan Longoria as its third baseman of the future. Instead, the Pirates drafted Alvarez with the second overall pick. Alvarez, a client of high profile sports agent Scott Boras, made headlines shortly after being drafted because of a bizarre contract situation. Now a days he is letting his play do all the talking. Since being promoted to Double A on June 23, Alvarez is hitting .298 with six home runs. he is hitting .362 with four home runs in the month of July.
Here is the Q and A:
JF: You seem like you have adjusted pretty well to Double A pitching Already. Tell me about your experience so far with the next level. What have you struggled with, if anything?
PA: I’m glad I got the promotion and I am trying to make adjustments coming (up) from A ball; Just taking it one day at a time, not trying to too much, day by day and little by little, just doing the small things that I can. So, in the end I can have the maximum amount of adjustments and try to make the transition as easy as possible.
JF: When you go into that batters box what is the important thing that you tell yourself and what is the most important thing to having a good at bat?
PA: Just stay within myself and try to stick to my approach. I try to swing at my pitches. If the pitcher makes three (great) pitches, you have to tip your cap. I try not to get away from my game plan and try not to do too much up there.
JF: You are in an interesting position as the (former) second overall pick. You come in here with a lot of hype. Pittsburgh is looking at you as a guy for the future. What has that been like for you? Tell me about the environment you have been?
PA: It is nice because it shows that they have the best interest in me and they want me to succeed and do well. When you have a bunch of a guys and a bunch of coaches pulling for you; it’s always nice to know you have people in your corner.
Even if I didn’t have that expectation on me, I would still would go out there and try to play to the best of my ability like I do every day now and try to learn as much as I can. I try not to let any of the external factors get to me in preparing myself to play everyday. I try to play to the best of my abilities.
JF: Baseball is interesting too because you are selected in the draft. You have Scott Boras as your agent and there is a lot of hype surrounding you, but then you can slip into obscurity a little bit in the minor leagues. Does that take away from the pressure a little bit?
PA: I knew that starting my professional career wasn’t going to be easy, obviously. If it were, there would be a lot more people doing it. I know I am still going to face a lot of obstacles. It is just a matter of how I deal with it and how I handle adversity and how quickly I bounce back form these obstacles is going to determine my future.
JF: You were in a situation too with your contract. As a player, putting all the money issues aside, how hard is it to wait for all that stuff to get worked out when you just get drafted?
PA: I am glad that everything worked out the way it did and (I am happy about) the situation I am in now. All I know is that I was given this opportunity and everyday I take advantage of it. Everything happens for a reason. I am glad everything turned out the way it did and I am in the position I am in now.