Dreams sometimes get detoured, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the alternate path is any less enticing or life-changing.
That’s something Alex Bregman is ready to embrace more than ever.
The LSU baseball commitment wanted to get a call Monday when the 2012 Major League Baseball Draft lifted off – wanted to be a first-round selection when the teams went through 31 picks.
Instead, the talented New Mexico prep star had to wait until the 29th round Wednesday when the Bost Red Sox picked him with the 901st overall pick.
When a first-round call never came, Bregman said he’d already turned the page. With some added inspiration.
“I’m ready to get down there to LSU and make an impact,” the New Mexico prep star said. “I’m going down there very excited about this chance to live a dream and do whatever I can to help us win three national championships while I’m there. I’m going to be playing with a chip on my shoulder.”
That couldn’t be better news for LSU.
Bregman is a 6-foot, 185-pound self-proclaimed baseball junkie who has been on the scene nationally for several years as part of Team USA. He was the National Player of the Year in 16-under two years ago and as a junior set a New Mexico prep season record with 18 home runs.
He missed most of his senior season at Albuquerque Academy after the second knuckle on the middle finger of his right (throwing) hand was shattered when he used his hand to deflect a bad hop while he was taking fungos before a game on March 12.
Whether the injury and missing two months of baseball were the only reasons he didn’t get a first-day call when the draft began might never be known.
LSU coach Paul Mainieri sure doesn’t mind being Bregman’s fallback option.
“Alex Bregman coming to LSU is a real coup for the Tigers because this kid is one of the special players in the country in my opinion,” Mainieri said. “His true value can’t be measured in awards or records or stats. He’s a baseball rat and he just loves the game so much and works at it so hard. You add to that that he has the talent to make an impact and it’s really big news for us.
“This is a kid who told us all along that if didn’t get drafted in the first round, he was coming to LSU. He feels strongly, and so do I, that he’s a first-round talent and he wants to come to LSU and prove it.”
No doubt about that.
“Things happen for a reason,” Bregman said. “Hurting my finger was just a fluke accident, but I guess it made a lot of teams worry about picking me. In my mind, I’m a first-rounder. I’m not going to sell myself short and once the 31 picks (first round) ended, I knew I was going to Baton Rouge and I got really excited.”
Bregman committed to LSU as a sophomore and after he got an attention-getting e-mail from Tigers assistant coach Javi Sanchez, who had seen him play in the 16-U trials.
Once the dialogue began with LSU, and especially after a visit to Baton Rouge, the decision was made.
“I grew up watching LSU in the College World Series, and when I first heard form Coach Sanchez, that was a huge deal to me,” Bregman said. “I had probably visited 20 schools unofficially, but when I got e-mail I told my parents ‘Let’s go.’ ”
Now, barring a change of heart to accept the $100,000 maximum he could get as a signing bonus under the new draft rules, Bregman will be on campus in August and working at grabbing a starting spot.
He has played primarily shortstop and catcher so far, although he manned the outfield when he returned late in the Academy season. There have also been prognostications of him fitting best as a second baseman.
“We’ll look at him as a shortstop and see if he can do it there,” Mainieri said. “But he might also have a shot of playing third base or catching. He’s a pretty versatile guy, and with our first priority being to replace that left side, it’s big for us to get a kid of Alex’s caliber.”
Especially when that caliber comes with a little added incentive.