Tue, Aug 31 2010 04:07 AM Posted By: John Philip Wyllie
Former Castle Park Trojan pitcher Alex Sanabia made his triumphant return to San Diego July 30 as a member of the Florida Marlins pitching staff. While he did not get the opportunity to display his talents during the three-game series, he did enjoy sharing his initial stint in the big leagues with a group of family and friends on hand hoping to see him play.
Following batting practice, the personable Sanabia remained on the field to sign autographs and pose for pictures for the group of about 40 who turned out to welcome him home.
Up until late June, Sanabia had been progressing through AA baseball. Then a rash of injuries hit the Marlins pitching staff and provided the 21-year-old right hander an early look at the big league life. He hopes to soon enjoy that life for an extended period. With a fastball clocked at 90-91 mph and a deceptive curve in his arsenal, he is well on his way.
His first stint in the big leagues ended at the conclusion of the Padres series, but it produced some memorable moments. He pitched 23.1 innings and went 1-1, gaining his first Major League victory on July 10 against the Washington Nationals. He had a respectable 4.63 ERA and recorded 20 strikeouts.
Sanabia’s career got off to a promising start in Tijuana.
“I played for three or four years over there when I was first learning to play,” he said. “I wasn’t the best guy on the team, but that was the beginning.”
His father played a pivotal role in his development.
“My dad has been with me every step of the way,” Sanabia said. “He taught me how to play and he was one of the many people who helped me to develop. I am grateful to all of my coaches.”
When Sanabia came out of the clubhouse to warm up with his teammates, it was a special moment for both father and son.
“It was awesome,” the Florida pitcher said. “It is obviously a dream to be up here, but to be at home and to be able to play where I grew up is even better. I got chills when we arrived here. There are a couple of my buddies in the stands from my playing days (in Chula Vista) and more that are on the way.”
While fortunate to be playing at the Major League level at just 21, Sanabia’s presence here is no accident.
“I already had my mind made up right after high school that this is what I wanted to do,” he said. “I believed that if I worked hard enough I would be able to achieve it. The key has been hard work, but a little luck has never hurt anybody.”
While Sanabia enjoyed his first stint in the big leagues, his goal is to be a permanent fixture in the Marlins starting rotation. To do that, he will have to diversify his arsenal.
“My two-seamer and my change-up are what brought me here, but I am working to add a slider,” he said.
Sanabia said he has a message to the young players hoping to follow in his footsteps.
“Anything is possible,” the CPHS alum said. “You just have to work hard and believe in yourself. If you really want it, it will happen.”
© 2009 The Star-News