WINSTON-SALEM — A local minor-league baseball team is now home to an Olympic medalist.
The Chicago White Sox announced this week that they are promoting an infielder from their Low-A level team in Kannapolis to the Dash.
The shortstop/second baseman was hitting .285 with 42 steals for the Intimidators. Oh, and he also carries a silver medal from the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi.
Eddy Alvarez, 25, has waffled back and forth between baseball and speed skating for years, but after finally getting his chance to shine for the USA team, the infielder says he is devoted to baseball.
Coming out of high school, Alvarez had offers to play baseball in college, but chose skating instead. After missing the 2010 Olympics, he returned to baseball in an attempt to give his knees a break after years of chronic pain.
For the 2011 season, Alvarez walked on to the Salt Lake Community College baseball team. He became the starting shortstop, batted .303, and was named to the All-Conference team for the season. However, his knees did not improve and he finally decided to have them checked out. His doctor found that Alvarez had multiple tears, 12 total, in the patellar tendons of both knees.
While laid up for four weeks, Alvarez said he took up the guitar, learning to play to pass the time.
After intense physical therapy, Alvarez made the United States’ World Cup Team in December 2012. He finished the season ranked third in the country. During the 2013–14 World Cup season, Alvarez won three medals.
At the 2014 Olympic Trials, he placed second in the 500 meters, second in the 1500 meters, and third in the 1000 meters. The performance made him the first Cuban-American male speed skater to make a U.S. Olympic team. At the Olympics, he won a silver medal in the 5000 meter relay after failing to medal in his three individual events.
In June 2014, the White Sox signed him to a minor-league contract, and he played 27 last season in the rookie-level Arizona League.
He was promoted to Kannapolis late last season and started there again this year.
So far in his pro ball career, Alvarez has played 134 games and is batting .307 with 51 steals and 96 runs scored.
His 42 steals so far this season (against just eight times caught) ranks him fifth in all of Minor League Baseball.
He forms a potent threat on the basepaths with current Dash player Adam Engel, who leads the Carolina League with 38 steals. Engel leads the Dash with 61 runs scored.
Jason Peter, who leads the Dash with 96 hits, plays second base, so Alvarez likely will see action at shortstop, where current starter Cleulius Rondon is hitting just .179.
Jeff is the associate editor and can be reached at 415-4692.