We continue our interviews of prospects within the White Sox’ stacked system with Alex Destino. Alex is a left-handed outfielder who spent the majority of his season with the Great Falls Voyagers where he slashed .248/.298/.407 with 5 home runs in 68 games. He also spent three games with the Low-A Kannapolis Intimidators. Destino was drafted in the 14th Round of the 2017 June Draft, foregoing his final year at the University of South Carolina. He is an alum of North Buncombe High School in South Carolina.
In three seasons at South Carolina, Destino hit .279 with 26 homers and 135 RBI. He was also rated the No. 16 best prospect in the SEC for 2017 MLB Draft by Perfect Game. I had the chance to talk with Alex about his professional career and some of the most important lessons he’s learned along the way.
At what age did you start playing baseball, and when did you think that you could make a career out of baseball?
I started playing baseball right around the age of six. I thought I could make a career out of it once I got to high school and began playing for high profile travel teams. I was lucky enough to play in front of scouts, both in my high school season as well as during the summers in travel ball.
You attended the University of South Carolina. Can you talk about the recruiting process that you went through to play College Baseball? What went into your decision to eventually become a Gamecock?
Chad Holbrook, my head coach, along with Sammy Esposito recruited me beginning my sophomore year of high school, and I committed right at the beginning of my junior year of high school. I will always have a place in my heart for both of those men. They not only helped turn me into the ballplayer I am today, but they helped me become a better young man. During my high school recruiting process, South Carolina baseball was going deep into the playoffs every year, something that was obviously appealing to a recruit. In addition, the facilities, fans, and stadium are among the elite in the entire country. Bringing it all together was the coaching staff that I had the pleasure of going to the field everyday to listen to and learn from.
You were drafted in the 14th Round by the White Sox after your Junior Year. Why did you decide to forego your final year at South Carolina and sign a professional contract?
A lot of different conversations and considerations went into the decision of skipping my senior year of college. College was the best three years of my life. I made friends and memories that I will bring with me the rest of my life. However, my family and I decided that it would be in my best interest to begin my professional career a year early.
You had a total of two pitching appearances in your career at South Carolina. What was the situation surrounding those? Were you an emergency pitcher of sorts?
I went to South Carolina originally as a left-handed pitcher. In high school, I was arguably a more talented pitcher than position player. However, in the SEC, it is extremely rare and extremely difficult to be able to do both at the level required to play. Knowing this, my coaches and I decided it would be in mine, and the team’s, best interest for me to proceed as a position player.
What’s your day to day life like as a minor league player during the season? How do you prepare – physically and mentally – for an upcoming game or series?
As everyone is aware, baseball is an extremely long and physically demanding season. However, you can argue that it is even more mentally demanding. Considering all these things, I try and lock my body into a daily routine that not only keeps my body fresh, but also my mind. I like waking up early and drinking coffee while playing video games or watching something on television. I normally like getting to the field early enough to be able to do my workout with plenty of time afterwards to relax before batting practice begins. While in the clubhouse, I like to play cards and interact with both my teammates and coaches. After the game I like to go home, get off my feet, and relax. I enjoy watching movies and TV shows. It is here where I can escape from baseball for that few hour frame before bed, because when I wake up, it is time to focus and prepare for what I have that day. When it comes to preparing for an upcoming series, I always talk to the other guys on the team about the upcoming opposing pitchers we are going to face, along with the big bats and outfield formations we play for the certain parts of the lineup. Besides that, I enjoy visualizing having success on the field while listening to music right before I run out onto the field for warm-ups.
What is your schedule like in the offseason? Do you create your own workouts and daily routines, or is a lot of it determined by the team and training staff?
For the first few weeks I am home, I do not go into the weight room. I like to play Frisbee golf, golf, and other active hobbies to keep myself up and active rather than doing nothing. After that, I get into the weight room and take advantage of the workouts that the White Sox provide us throughout the entire offseason and into Spring Training. During the offseason, I prefer to workout in the mornings rather than the afternoons so that I can get my day going and blood flowing.
What’s the most important lesson you have learned thus far within the White Sox system?
Coming into minor league baseball, I heard time after time that you lose the “team” feel, meaning that everyone is worried about themselves, rather than cheering for and supporting their teammates. I can say that my experience in the White Sox organization has been the complete opposite. I pride myself on being a great teammate and a coachable player. In this organization, entire teams of guys who share this same passion have surrounded me. In my first year and a half in the White Sox organization, I have played for Ryan Newman, Tim Esmay, and briefly Justin Jirschele. All three of these men have been absolutely unbelievable in not only preaching how important it is to play for each other, but bringing an infectious personality to the field that make you eager to play for them.
On behalf of the entire Sox On 35th community, I’d like to thank Alex for taking the time to talk about his minor league career and the path he took to get here. He is clearly a hard-working and passionate player who takes pride in being a part of the White Sox organization. We will definitely be rooting for Alex as he continues to grow in his professional career.
You can follow Alex Destino on Twitter: @Destino_15
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