Ex-Lobo delighted he’s getting a chance to play pro ball
When the 2013 season ended for the New Mexico Lobos with a loss to Columbia in the NCAA regionals June 1, senior Alex Allbritton thought his baseball-playing days – but not his days in baseball – may have been over.
But one week later, the Los Angeles Angels selected Allbritton in the 21st round with the 637th overall pick of the MLB draft.
Now Allbritton, who was a four-year starter for the Lobos, is taking advantage of the chance the Angels gave him with the Orem (Utah) Owlz of the Rookie Pioneer League.
“I think it’s great,” Allbritton said. “The excitement still hasn’t worn off. It’s great to wake up every day and realize that I get to play baseball for a living.”
Allbritton, who plans to finish his degree in marketing and operations management in the fall at UNM, wasn’t sure if he’d get a chance to play baseball for money but knew he wanted to stay around the game.
“Being in the sports world is something I’d like to do,” Allbritton said. “Working in the front office of a major league or minor league team is something I’ve always had interest in.”
As a senior with the Lobos, Allbritton was named to the All-Mountain West first team for the second consecutive year and set career highs in batting average (.312), home runs (two), RBIs (39), hits (64), total bases (84), slugging percentage (.410) and fielding percentage (.975). He was also a semifinalist for the Brooks Wallace Award, which is given to the best shortstop in the nation.
“Being a Lobo was great,” Allbritton said. “I loved all four years I was there. Some seasons were better than others but I ended up having a great time at UNM.”
Allbritton also was named Academic All-Mountain West for the fourth straight year, which meant just as much – if not more – than his on-field accolades.
“It means a lot. My parents kind of brought me up to work hard in school,” Allbritton said. “Coach (Ray) Birmingham also encouraged us to do well in the classroom and get good grades, so I’m definitely proud of that.”
Despite his success on the diamond and in the classroom, Allbritton was unsure if he’d be picked during the three-day draft but found out from teammates on June 8 while he was working at a camp that he was now a professional baseball player.
The front office would have to wait.
“I really didn’t know if I was going to be drafted or not and I wasn’t really worried about it,” Allbritton said. “If it happened I was going to be really excited about it; if not then I was ready to deal with it. I was working at a UNM baseball camp when it happened and a couple teammates came up and told me I was drafted. It was a really great feeling.”
Allbritton signed for $3,000 and began his pro career with the Arizona League Angels, where he hit .262 and drove in four runs in 16 games before being sent to Orem in the Pioneer League. In 15 games with the Owlz, Allbritton has found his comfort zone and was hitting .389.
“I didn’t know exactly what to expect, but I got here and was fortunate enough to have some coaches who are laid-back enough to make me feel comfortable and not feel pressured,” Allbritton said. “I’m very pleased with how things are going so far.”
Obviously Allbritton would have preferred to be selected higher, but being picked in the later rounds of the draft has allowed the 6-foot-2, 185-pound shortstop to just relax and play baseball.
“There’s a lot of guys who were picked higher and got a lot of money who feel quite a bit of pressure,” Allbritton said. “I don’t have that kind of pressure on me, so I’m pleased with the situation I’m in.”
While pleased with his current situation, Allbritton hopes to eventually work his way to a job with the Angels, just not in the front office quite yet.
“This season I want to try to stay consistent and play solid baseball,” Allbritton said. “I want to keep working hard and move as far up as my talents will take me in this organization.”