LA Angels prospect Luis Alvarado has been flying under the radar all season as he has been somewhat overshadowed by two top 20 prospects in pitchers Jose Soriano (11th) and Hector Yan (18th).
LA Angels prospect Luis Alvarado has taken a long road to get into Major League Baseball for the Salinas, Puerto Rico native. In 2014 Alvarado he was drafted as an outfielder in the 33rd round by the Boston Red Sox, after playing one year of high school ball in the U.S at Monteverdi Academy in Florida, but he decided to go in a different direction accepting a college scholarship to the University of Nebraska.
So what is the significance of that move for Alvarado, plenty. As many Angels fans now Angel legend Darin Erstad was the head coach for the University of Nebraska so Alvarado got to know more about the Angels franchise then most prospects in the Angels minor league system. Under Erstad’s tutelage Alvarado was converted from a position player to a pitcher, a role he filled his final two years in Lincoln, Nebraska.
While at Nebraska Alvarado had a good freshmen year hitting .303 with a .370 OBP. In his junior year Alvarado started pitching as the team closer in 15.2 IP striking out 15 batters and recording 10 saves. He was drafted again after his junior year this time in the 13th round by the Seattle Mariners as a pitcher, but again Alvarado decided to stay in school for his senior year.
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In his senior year Alvarado became a starter for Nebraska going 3-7 with a 4.89 ERA in 14 starts. He struck out 65 in 70.1 innings of work. This time the Angels drafted him in the 17th round of the 2018 draft. Alvarado said that Erstad and his wife Jessica were ecstatic that Alvarado was selected by the Angels. Alvarado credits Erstad a lot for his development in college.
“It was amazing playing for someone who played the game at the highest level like Coach Erstad. He taught us how the game should be played and what you need to do in order to be successful in professional baseball,” Alvarado said of Erstad.
“It gave me a definite advantage for when I was drafted and came here as to what to expect and how things work in professional baseball. When I called him to tell him I got drafted by the Angels he was so happy, his whole family was. I was very close to the Erstad’s while at Nebraska and I’m proud to be playing in the same organization that he did.”
Since being drafted last summer Alvarado has shown some good stuff. So far in 2019 Alvarado has shown a lot of promise posting a 2.59 ERA over the first three months of the season with a 1.10 WHIP while striking out 69 batters and walking only 24 in 59 innings of work. July was not such a kind month for Alvarado as his last three outings saw him give up 10 runs in only 8.2 innings which spiked his ERA a full run. However, Alvarado has righted his ship as the piggyback man (split start between two pitchers) pitching six strong innings in two appearances allowing only two runs on two hits and striking out six batters.
What was even more ironic is that Alvarado’s manager in Burlington is long-time Angel Jack Howell, who played with Erstad when he broke in as a rookie with the Angels. Howell took Erstad under his wing to show him the ropes of being a major leaguer like Erstad tried to do with Alvarado.
“When I told Darin that my manager was going to be Jack Howell, he laughed (at the irony) and said that guy is good guy,” Alvarado said. “It is amazing, they teach you how to do things right. You always want to learn from the best and from someone who has been at the highest level like they have, so you can follow in their steps because have done the right things to get to the highest level.”
Alvarado’s goal is just to be consistent and throw strikes while trying to get batters out and improve his craft.
“I feel really good about how I’ve pitched (so far). It always could be better, you always want to strive to be better,” Alvarado said. “I want to stay in control on the mound and just worry about the things I can control, not about things that are out of my control.”
Alvarado features a fastball that has touched 95 MPH and averages 93 with a biting slider and good change-up. Although the Angels have Jose Soriano and Hector Yan in Burlington Luis Alvarado is starting to turn some heads.
“Luis Alvarado is moving his way up the ranks with the at he has pitched this year,” Bees pitching coach Jonathan Van Eaton said. “He is very good at pounding the zone and inducing weak contact which is something we preach here to our pitchers.”
An even further Angel connection for Alvarado, who was an early mentor to him was former Angel infielder Sandy Alomar Sr, who played for the Angels from 1969 to 1974. Alvarado said that Alomar and his sons Roberto and Sandy Alomar Jr do a lot for kids in the Dominican Republic teaching them about baseball.
“The Alomar’s come from my city and I grew up knowing that they came from there which is a big reason why I got into baseball as a kids” Alvarado said. “I met Sandy Alomar the father first because he actually still lives there. He is a good guy.”
As for the chance to move up and eventually play in the majors, Alvarado is excited for the opportunity, but still knows there is work to do to get there.
“It would be great to get moved up to the next level and play in California so close to Anaheim,” Alvarado said. “But I know it is a process and I will get there when I’m ready and the skills to succeed at the big league level.”