Miami baseball Head Coach Jim Morris once approached freshman Yonder Alonso shortly after he first arrived in Coral Gables, hoping to learn about his newest player.
“One time I asked him, ‘What position do you play?'” Jim Morris said. “He said, ‘I’m a hitter.'”
Alonso has bounced around, playing third in high school and practicing at catcher before being placed at first base full-time. However, Alonso brings a lot more to the table then hitting alone.
“To his credit, during the winter break, he worked on having balls hit to him and digging them out of the dirt,” Morris said.
Alonso’s work has paid off. He has made some good plays defensively but also provided a spark offensively. Alonso is third on the team in batting (.421) and first in runs batted in (9).
Alonso traveled a long road to reach this point. He is Cuban-American, coming to America when he was 10 with his family.
When Alonso transferred to Coral Gables High School for his sophomore year, he played a year with catcher Eddy Rodriguez. It was this relationship that began to open his eyes to the idea of playing at Miami.
“Eddy showed me what Miami is all about,” Alonso said. “I noticed the rivalries and the tradition they had.”
Alonso received the tremendous honor of being selected in the 15th round of the Major League Draft by the Minnesota Twins. This might have been enough for some people to skip college, but for Alonso it was not.
“The family is a big thing,” Alonso said. “I am Cuban and Cuban families are always close. I had other scholarship offers, but I decided to come here to Miami.”
Alonso’s family, and in particular his father, got him started in baseball.
“When I was very young, my father would take me to the ballpark and I would hit from home plate to the stands behind the plate,” Alonso said.
Besides his work ethic, Alonso is blessed with a strong baseball body.
“He was double my size in high school,” Rodriguez said. “And he was a sophomore when I was a senior.”
Along with Jason Santana and Ben Vazquez, four former Gables teammates play on Miami together. Rodriguez said he feels and acts like the older brother.
Alonso said he is excited to be at Miami and playing for a team that demands nothing less then excellence, expressing his gratitude to the program.
“I want to thank those guys for getting me better everyday.”
Denis Brown can be contacted at email@example.com