First baseman Peter Alonso was determined not to have his college career end with a fracture to his left hand on a fastball from Vanderbilt right-hander Jordan Sheffield on May 13.
So three weeks later, with the fifth metacarpal still not fully healed, Alonso returned for a regional hosted by his University of Florida team. He homered on his first swing.
“Sheffield, he throws pretty damn hard. I think the pitch was 96 mph, or something like that,” Alonso said. “He’s a great pitcher, great arm. But I didn’t want my Gator career to end on a broken-hand hit-by-pitch against Vanderbilt. I wanted to help my team win. Seeing the guys the next day, Kyle Wright was pitching, another great Vanderbilt arm, it just looked like we didn’t have as much potential to win. I know, being the hitter that I am, we have the best chance possible when I’m in the lineup.
“And it wasn’t just that. I wanted to go to the [College] World Series and be able to play on the biggest stage on that level and wanted to try to win a championship.
“I didn’t have the X-ray until Saturday morning. It was a Friday night game. That whole night I didn’t really sleep much. It wasn’t because my hand was broken. I was just freaking out because I didn’t want that to be my last hurrah.
“After I got the X-ray back, it was like, ‘Well, you could be back as early as regionals. Or you could take it slow.’ I was just like, ‘I’m going to do whatever I can to get back as quick as I can.’ In my mind I had it set, ‘I’m going to play in regionals. I don’t know how, but I’m going to do it.’ With the grace of God, my hand got better. I did all the rehab stuff, but it’s amazing. So much had to fall into place, and it did. My hand was still broken. Not a lot of people realize that. A lot of people said, ‘Pete recovered.’ No, it was still broken. But if that was a risk -- me needing surgery, me getting hurt in the draft -- I didn’t care. I just wanted to play and take that chance to win a championship. That’s just how I am.”
Alonso -- who was drafted in the second round by the New York Mets a week after returning from the broken hand -- ultimately helped lead the Gators to the College World Series, although their bid for the national title in baseball came up short.
Coastal Carolina, led by Alonso’s now-Cyclones teammate Michael Paez, beat Florida in their opening game in Omaha. Alonso’s college career then ended when Texas Tech beat the Gators, 3-2. Alonso produced a two-run homer in the ninth in his final college swing. He finished the college season with 14 homers in 58 games.
“I’m actually really happy for Mike,” Alonso said. “What that team was able to do, and how they did it, they deserved it. … When we were out, I was rooting for Coastal.”
Alonso is now hitting .286 (12-for-42) with two homers and seven RBIs for Brooklyn. He said the bone had fully healed when it was checked after the College World Series.
He had been a third baseman as a high school player in Florida and moved to first base in college.
“Right now, defensively, I’m really confident in myself,” Alonso said. “I think I’m one of the best ones out there. I’ve worked incredibly hard and took a lot of groundballs, and I continue to do so, because I know you can always get better. But I think I’m in a really good spot defensively.”
Average: Walter Rasquin, Kingsport, .377; T.J. Rivera, Vegas, .342; Brandon Nimmo, Vegas, .328; Victor Moscote, GCL Mets, .328; Amed Rosario, Binghamton, .328; Gavin Cecchini, Vegas, .320; Tomas Nido, St. Lucie, .318; Wuilmer Becerra, St. Lucie, .312; Roger Bernadina, Vegas, .308; Travis Taijeron, Vegas, .307.
Homers: Johnny Monell, Vegas, 15; Travis Taijeron, Vegas, 14; Marc Krauss, Vegas, 12; Dilson Herrera, Vegas, 12; Dominic Smith, Binghamton, 11.
RBIs: Travis Taijeron, Vegas, 71; David Thompson, St. Lucie, 66; Dominic Smith, Binghamton, 65; T.J. Rivera, Vegas, 64; Amed Rosario, Binghamton, 53.
Steals: Champ Stuart, Binghamton, 28; J.C. Rodriguez, Columbia, 15; Patrick Biondi, St. Lucie, 15; Amed Rosario, Binghamton, 14; Roger Bernadina, Vegas, 12.
ERA: Thomas Szapucki, Kingsport, 0.62; Luis Silva, GCL Mets, 1.74; Sixto Torres, GCL Mets, 1.89; P.J. Conlon, St. Lucie, 1.94; Ricky Knapp, St. Lucie, 2.16; Luis De Los Santos, GCL Mets, 2.39; Max Wotell, Kingsport, 2.49; Andrew Barbosa, GCL Mets, 2.52; Harol Gonzalez, Brooklyn, 2.62; Kevin Canelon, Columbia, 3.10.
Saves: Alex Palsha, St. Lucie, 14; Corey Taylor, St. Lucie, 14; Paul Sewald, Vegas, 9; Akeel Morris, Binghamton, 6; Beck Wheeler, Vegas, 6.
Strikeouts: Joe Shaw, Columbia, 95; Tyler Pill, Binghamton, 93; Kevin Canelon, Columbia, 86; P.J. Conlon, St. Lucie, 84; Chase Ingram, Columbia, 81.
Rafael Montero had a 7.20 ERA and had walked 40 batters in 80 innings when he was demoted from Las Vegas to Binghamton. In his first start in Double-A in three years, Montero then allowed two runs (one earned) on four hits and two walks in six innings on Friday against Hartford.
Binghamton first baseman Dominic Smith, who represented the organization in the Futures Game, has produced six straight multiple-hit games since returning from the All-Star break. He is hitting .500 (13-for-26) during that stretch. Smith now leads B-Mets qualifiers with a .294 average this season.
Right-hander Tyler Pill’s win Monday against Bowie gave him his 23rd career victory with Binghamton. That matches Mark Cohoon (2010-13) for the B-Mets’ franchise record.
St. Lucie drew a franchise-record 16 walks on Monday against the Tampa Yankees. The previous record had been 14 in an 18-inning game in 1989. Kevin Taylor received four of those walks. He now owns a .399 on-base percentage, which ranks third in the Florida State League.
The top three batting averages in the FSL belong to St. Lucie players: Tomas Nido at .318, followed by Wuilmer Becerra at .312 and Amed Rosario at .309. Rosario has been promoted to Binghamton, but remains among the league qualifiers. Taylor ranks fifth at .298.
Left fielder Kevin Kaczmarski has been an impact player since a promotion from Columbia. He has hit safely in all seven games and has produced a .480 average (12-25) with three doubles, a triple, seven walks, four RBIs and 10 runs scored.
Columbia left-hander Kevin Canelon has allowed three earned runs or fewer in all 17 starts this season. He is 5-7 with a 3.10 ERA.
Infielder Walter Rasquin, a 20-year-old Venezuelan, was named Appalachian League offensive player of the week. Rasquin is hitting .377 with two homers and 10 RBIs in 17 games with Kingsport.
“Farm Report” appears on Wednesdays during the regular season.