Mandy Alvarez‘s 2017 season didn’t go as planned. He started at high-A Tampa and then after struggling, was sent back down to low-A Charleston where he suffered a fractured left foot at the end of July that will likely end his season.
“Mandy’s dealing with a stress fracture in his left foot. Latest I heard on him is that he’s going to see a foot specialist and we’re going to go from there,” Charleston RiverDogs manager Patrick Osborn said. “Mandy’s done a really good job for us, both at third base and first. He’s swinging the bat well,” Osborn added.
Mandy Alvarez started off 2017 playing for the high-A Tampa Yankees. The 17th round draft pick in the 2016 draft struggled in the high A Florida State League and he found himself back in low-A Charleston. He started off the year slashing .228/.248/.275 in 41 games with Tampa.
Always a consistent hitter, .288/.306/404 between Charleston and short-season A Staten Island last year, Alvarez zeroed in on the reason for the slow start. “At the beginning of the year, I felt like I was doing too much. Not simplifying the game. As of late, I’ve really tried to get back to just making good contact and that’s being the only outcome that I’m happy is good contact, good hard contact and everything else, you can’t really control where it goes.”
Alvarez was back to making hard contact and has hit .261/.310/.328 back in Charleston. Those numbers include a slow start when he first arrived with the RiverDogs. He credits Dogs hitting coach Ty Hawkins for the turnaround to his season. “Hawk is a great hitting guy, loves to talk hitting. He’ll talk your head off and I’ll talk his head off about hitting. He obsesses over players’ swings and something I highly respect of him.”
Alvarez also looks to his teammates for ways to improve his own game. “I learn a lot from them. I will watch someone, what they do well, see why they do it well, try to figure out what makes them successful and see their work habits and you get a gauge for how different people do different things to prepare themselves. Maybe something they do will put you in a position that helps you. Maybe someone does something in their swing that you like and you give it a try. You like it, and it works out for you, so I think it’s great to learn from other people.”
Last year, Alvarez played at third base. This year, he’s been working at first base making him a more versatile player. The transition to playing first hasn’t been easy for Alvarez, but he’s not worried about it. “It’s been difficult. It’s a lot of new things you have to learn and adjust to. And other things you have to think about and other aspects of the game you have to worry about. It’s a little bit difficult just flip flopping the sides of the field, but nothing I can’t handle.”
Last season, Alvarez went from playing college baseball at Eastern Kentucky University to getting drafted by the New York Yankees and was assigned right away to Staten Island. He started off his pro career by reaching safely in his first 25 games of his career and a 22 game hitting streak. During the middle of that streak, Alvarez was promoted quickly to Charleston where he put together a solid first professional season.
From going straight from college to professional baseball in 2016, Alvarez didn’t have much chance to prepare for a long season. Before this season, Alvarez took advantage of the offseason to ready himself. “I’ve been prepared and ready for this. A lot of working out (in the offseason), a lot of running, hitting every day it seemed like.”
As for making the adjustment off the field, Alvarez is adjusting to completely focusing on baseball during the season. “I got to live on my own in college, I had my own apartment, so it was similar. The toughest part is probably showing up here at 12:30, 1 being here until 10:30 at night. Go home, try to go to sleep. Wake up, you’re already back here, so that’s probably the toughest part. You really don’t have much of a social life or outside life other than that.”