Good thing Thunder Bay Border Cats catcher Alex Hernandez arrived fresh from Nova Southeastern University with little playing time under his belt and youth on his side.
“Honestly, I thought it was good for me coming off a year of not playing as much as I would have liked to. I think I was able to get my work in get in the groove of things. Now I’m good to go,” said the 20-year-old receiver.
Hernandez played in 14 straight games for Thunder Bay to start the season, 12 of them catching every single pitch.
Hernandez didn’t see extensive playing time in Division II Nova Southeastern University. Their last two catchers were drafted in the 14th and seveth rounds of the last two major league baseball drafts.
Local player Nicholas Fazzari served as Hernandez’s back-up and handled yeoman’s chores in the Border Cats bullpen.
Recently-arrived Joe Jimenez, out of California’s Chapman University, recently played a pair of back-to-back games to give Hernandez a break after his 14-game stretch behind the dish. Utility man Conor Allard was just added to the depth chart.
The spate of games gave Hernandez an instant handle on the Border Cat pitching staff.
“I know all these guys. I know their tendencies. What I have to do to keep them on the right track,” noted Hernandez.
The club bonded early in the year through early adversity and now success. The six-foot, 200-pound sophomore gave himself a nickname.
“Came in here, realized I was one of the only Hispanic guys. I said, ‘Hey guys, why don’t you just call me Papi’? They loved it, rode with it. Even the announcer (Bryan Graham) calls me Papi now,” smiled Hernandez.
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