Kaplan: How Astros’ Alex Bregman became New Mexico’s biggest baseball star

From Jake Kaplan at The Athletic on July 8, 2019:

New Mexico’s most prominent youth baseball academy started in the back of an engine shop.

The founders of the Albuquerque Baseball Academy rented out the space, which was dark, unheated and without a bathroom, and converted it into two batting cages, one large enough for only tee work and side tosses, and a pitching lane. The carpet was nasty even before the ABA coaches, a collection of local former college and pro players, stained it with chewing tobacco juice.

The operation exemplified blue-collar New Mexico. Players learned how to hit and pitch with the roar of car engines as a backdrop. One mother wore a mask as protection from the fumes when she accompanied her son to his lessons. The owner of the shop used the area to hang his elk after hunting excursions.

Still, kids flocked in for lessons, and none more so than a 10-year-old with a nonstop motor and an unquantifiable edge. He was small and wasn’t the fastest or strongest kid. But he was so adept at the fundamentals of the game and advanced with his swing that it wasn’t long before a couple of the coaches referred to him not as Alex Bregman but as “first rounder.”

Read the full article here (subscription required): https://theathletic.com/1065007/2019/07/08/the-pride-of-duke-city-how-alex-bregman-became-new-mexicos-biggest-baseball-star/

Originally published: July 9, 2019. Last Updated: July 9, 2019.