Subscribe for 33¢ / day

PEORIA — The pitching line on Alvaro Seijas' first start as a Peoria Chief on Tuesday was nothing special: Seven hits and three runs in five innings, getting tagged with the loss.

But there was a lot to like about the 19-year-old's performance.

"He's a young guy in his first full season," said Chiefs manager Chris Swauger. "You never know 100 percent how guys are going to react pitching for the first time in cold weather. (Tuesday) was a nice day, but it was still cold.

"He did a nice job attacking hitters. He had a good three-pitch mix with a decent breaking ball. All the runs came on soft contact and he made one mistake. It was a good lesson. We thought it was a good outing."

The St. Louis Cardinals have high hopes for Seijas, a Venezuelan right-hander who touches 94 mph on the radar gun and goes off speed with a hard curve and changeup. He's listed as the organization's 20th best prospect by MLB Pipeline.

Considering his tender age and this being his first full-season pro baseball venture beyond two seasons of rookie ball, Seijas (pronounced SAY-hoss) will be given plenty of time to develop.

This will be a big learning year for him on and off the field.

"A lot of times with young guys, especially at this level, they're still trying to figure themselves out and master what they do well," Swauger said. "He's no different. We want to keep him in control of what he can control."

Aside from those baseball lessons, Seijas is taking English classes furnished by the Cardinals.

"It's going well," Seijas said through translator and teammate Juan Yepez. "I'm trying to get better at English so I can do interviews by myself in the future."

Swauger encourages his Latin American players to try out their English in the comforts of the clubhouse.

"We tell them to stop by the office and give us three sentences every day," Swauger said. "They need to get over the hump because of that intimidation factor of getting the right words out. They still think in Spanish. They don't think in English."

The Chiefs skipper can relate. During his playing career, he played Winter Ball in Colombia and Panama.

"I know how they feel," he said. "I knew a lot of Spanish words, but it's intimidating to try to speak it because I didn't want to sound dumb and uneducated. It was more convenient to stay quiet.

"We're trying to create an environment where they feel comfortable. Most of them are intelligent kids. It's also important for our English-speaking players to learn Spanish and communicate with them. It's good for our clubhouse."

Although he comes from a country where baseball is king, Seijas' first exposure to sports was through basketball. His father, Daniel Seijas, was a 16-year pro in the Venezuelan Basketball League and his older brother also had a brief pro hoops career.

"My dad was my best teacher growing up even though he played a different sport," Seijas said.

One thing his dad couldn't teach him was how to deal with cold weather while competing.

Tuesday's start came during the day, but the temperatures were in the low 40s. And plenty of the Chiefs' workouts in this young season have come in un-baseball-like cool weather.

But it's not Seijas' first exposure to brisk conditions.

"When I was 16, I pitched in an MLB Showcase in North Carolina," he said. "It was cold. It's hard to pitch in the cold, but it's not impossible."

Just like it's hard to reach the major leagues, but not impossible.

"My goal is to help the team win this year and if God provides, I will play in a higher level," Seijas said. "I'll go out and give my best effort."

jreidy@herald-review.com | (217) 421-6973

0
1
0
0
0

Digital Editor

Digital editor for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

Load comments