Eddy Alvarez

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Eduardo Cortes Alvarez

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Biographical Information[edit]

In high school, infielder Eddy Alvarez earned a full athletic scholarship to St. Thomas University as a shortstop, but turned it down to focus on competing in the Olympics as a short-track speed skater. Alvarez walked on to Salt Lake Community College in 2011 and became the starting shortstop, but eventually found multiple tears in his knees from years of skating.

After winning a silver medal in the 2014 Winter Olympics as part of the United States 5000-meter relay team, Alvarez signed with the Chicago White Sox as an undrafted free agent. The scout was Mike Gellinger; given his lack of recent baseball experience, he did not receive any signing bonus. He made his pro debut with the AZL White Sox in 2014, hitting .291/.400/.409 in 27 games, before being promoted to the Kannapolis Intimidators late in the season (and hitting .431/.488/.639 in 18 games!). He spent most of the 2015 season with Kannapolis, hitting .285/.408/.429 with 42 stolen bases. He was then promoted to the Winston-Salem Dash, for whom he hit .325/.411/.467 in 34 games. For the year, he had 88 runs, 7 triples and 53 steals in 68 tries while drawing 88 walks. He was 6th in the South Atlantic League in swipes despite his limited action there. Among White Sox farmhands, he was second in runs (two behind Adam Engel), 4th in triples, second in steals (behind Engel), second in walks (8 shy of Danny Hayes) and first in OBP, very good for a player who was never drafted.

Alvarez started the 2016 season with the Birmingham Barons of the AA Southern League, where he hit .263/.339/.367 in 104 games. That earned him a short promotion to the AAA Charlotte Knights, where he hit .286 in 12 games. Between the two stops, he scored 58 runs and drove in 65. In 2017, he played for the same two teams, with 92 games at Birmingham and 34 at Charlotte. His combined batting line was .235/.347/.310, with 59 runs and 39 RBIs. His mediocre season prevented him from receiving an invitation to the White Sox's spring training in 2018, but his dream of reaching the majors was still alive, as he had already overcome very long odds to make it that far. He hit .253/.348/.435 for Charlotte that summer, showing some progress.

Picked up by the Miami Marlins chain, he spent most of 2019 with the New Orleans Baby Cakes; while now 29 years old, he continued to make strides at the plate (.324/.408/.559, 12 HR in 70 G) and also went 12-for-15 in steals.

On August 4, 2020, he was one of a slew of players added to their roster by the Miami Marlins after an outbreak of COVID-19 had forced them to find reinforcements wherever possible. He made his debut the next day, starting at second base in the first game of a doubleheader against the Baltimore Orioles. He grounded out twice against Alex Cobb then fanned facing Miguel Castro while handling one putout and one assist. Jon Berti moved in from the outfield to replace him at second in the bottom of the 7th. He then started at third base for the second game and went 0 for 2 in the 7-inning game. In spite of his lack of offensive contribution, the Marlins swept both games, 1-0 and 2-1. In 12 MLB games, he handled 36 chances error-free but hit only .189/.268/.216. Interestingly, his first two hits both came off the great Jacob deGrom.

He started 2021 well with the Marlins' farm teams (.312/.470/.442 in 23 G) and made Team USA for the Americas Olympic Qualifier. He bonded with Jon Jay, a fellow Cuban-American and teammate. Alvarez started at 2B, hitting .273/.429/.636 with 3 runs in 4 games; his 3 hits were two doubles and a triple. The USA won the event, going to the Tokyo Olympics. He was chosen to the Olympic team and was named the flagbearer for the entire US delegation for the opening ceremonies. He was bidding to become the third US Olympian to win medals in both the Winter Games and Summer Games, and the first to do so with the Winter medal not coming in bobsled. He did succeed in his quest as the U.S. team won the silver medal, losing to Japan in the final game. He then made it back to the majors with the Marlins in September, and on September 11th he hit his first major league homer, off Charlie Morton of the Atlanta Braves at Truist Park.

Alvarez's brother, Nick Alvarez, previously played in the minors. He is one of only two major leaguers to have won an Olympic medal in a sport other than baseball - the other is Jim Thorpe.

Further Reading[edit]

  • Jim Callis: "Ice to diamond: Olympian Alvarez eyes bigs: Jim Callis talks to Chicago's No. 26 prospect, Olympic silver-medal speed skater", mlb.com, March 8, 2016. [1]
  • Christina De Nicola: "Marlins player has unique 'short track' to pro ball: How the 29-year-old went from Olympic speed skating to the Marlins organization", mlb.com, August 28, 2019. [2]
  • Christina De Nicola: "Alvarez joins elite Olympic company: Marlins INF wins silver to become 6th athlete to earn medals in Summer and Winter Olympics", mlb.com, August 7, 2021. [3]
  • Gabe Lacques: "For Eddy Alvarez, dreams - plural - do come true: Olympic medalist debuts for Marlins at 30", USA Today, August 7, 2020. [4]
  • Scott Merkin: "Former Olympian Alvarez in White Sox camp: Minor League shortstop pushing hard to achieve his baseball dream", mlb.com, February 13, 2018. [5]
  • Matt Monagan: "An Olympic speedskater now plays for Miami: Eddy Alvarez has one of the wildest roads to the Majors ever", mlb.com, August 5, 2020. [6]
  • Brian Murphy: "Team USA flag bearer Alvarez: 'It's an honor'", mlb.com, July 21, 2021. [7]
  • Ben Weinrib: "'Epic': Olympian Alvarez hits 1st MLB HR", mlb.com, September 11, 2021. [8]

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