State Colleges

Miami Killian’s Mandy Alvarez joins Yankees organization

It took a few stops along the way as well as some highs and lows, but third baseman Mandy Alvarez is now a pro baseball player, having signed with the New York Yankees this week.

Alvarez, who starred at Miami’s Killian High, played for Miami Dade College and Eastern Kentucky before the Yankees drafted him in the 17th round last Saturday.

As a senior at Eastern Kentucky this past season, he hit .409 with 13 doubles, two triples, 13 homers and 58 RBI, leading the nation in hits during the regular season.

That led to his draft stock skyrocketing.

“Getting drafted is exciting,” said Alvarez, who graduated from EKU last month with a bachelor’s degree in business and finance. “It’s humbling.”

Alvarez’s college career got off to a slow start at FIU, where he got few opportunities.

“It was tough sitting there on the bench, getting just 50 at-bats,” Alvarez said.

Actually, Alvarez got even less than that — 37 at-bats, hitting .270 with a solid .762 OPS. He also played out of position at second base.

Alvarez decided to transfer to MDC, where he hit .376, helping the Sharks finish second in the nation in the Junior College World Series. He was also the MVP of the state tournament.

“That whole year was one of the best experiences of my life,” said Alvarez, who was used at third base at MDC. “The coaches gave me the opportunity to play, and I had an awesome year.”

After MDC, Alvarez had opportunities to play at several Division I schools, but Eastern Kentucky was the only one willing to hold his scholarship while he took some summer courses he needed to become eligible.

Alvarez was a starter as a junior at EKU, hitting .319 with 12 homers, which ranked fifth in the Ohio Valley Conference.

But it was in his senior year when he reverted back to being the nearly unstoppable force he was in high school —when he hit .490 as a junior and .400 as a senior, making first-team All-Dade twice.

As a senior at EKU, he was the Ohio Valley Conference’s Co-Player of the Year.

On his draft day, he got a call from the Philadelphia Phillies, telling him he was going to be their next pick. But when he hung up the phone, he noticed he had five text messages congratulating him on being selected by the Yankees.

The Yankees had beaten the Phillies to the pick, and now Alvarez gets to live out a dream that eluded his father, Armando, a left-handed pitcher whose career at Miami Dade College was derailed by an arm injury.

Two other former MDC players were drafted last week:

▪ Center fielder Jose Gomez was selected in the 39th round by the Brewers. He led St. Thomas with a .383 batting average and 17 steals.

▪ Right-hander Colyn O’Connell was drafted in the 26th round by the Tigers. He went 2-1 with a 2.00 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 27 innings for Florida Atlantic this year. The 6-5, 215-pound junior can throw 95 mph.

▪ In addition, three players were drafted off the 2016 MDC team: shortstop Santiago Espinal (10th round by the Red Sox), second baseman Kevin Santiago (20th round by the Rays) and catcher Nelson Mompierre (38th round by the Diamondbacks).

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