Alvin Melendez, a sophomore at Fordham University, made the Atlantic 10 All-Rookie Team this year based on his work as a relief pitcher for the Rams. But it is Melendez’s batting that is making an impression in this young Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League season.
With his 3-for-4 performance for the Riverhead Tomcats in a 6-0 home defeat of the North Fork Ospreys on Sunday, Melendez moved to the top of the league’s batting average list with a .512 average. (Teammate Freddy Sabido was third at .440). The 6-foot, 180-pound Melendez, who is from Whitestone, also has a home run, eight RBIs, four doubles, seven walks and seven stolen bases from 12 games.
Melendez was named the HCBL’s first Player of the Week this season. He opened the season by going 8-for-14, scoring seven runs and stealing four bases.
“I guess I’ve just been seeing the ball pretty well, trying to swing at good pitches, putting the barrel on the ball and it’s been working out, thank God,” Melendez said. “I try not to think much of an at-bat. I try not to think much in the past, so I’m just trying to move forward and play as well as I can.”
This past season with Fordham, Melendez batted .225 with a homer, eight RBIs and 14 runs. As a pitcher, though, he went 3-0 with the Rams, with the lowest ERA in the Atlantic 10, 0.76, over 23 2/3 innings.
And Melendez can still pitch. As a pitcher for the Tomcats, he is 1-0 with a save and a 0.00 ERA over 1 1/3 innings.
But that bat of his has sure been looking good.
Asked what has been the key to his success at the plate, Melendez answered: “I guess just swinging at good pitches, laying off balls and just getting the barrel on the baseball. When you do that, good things happen.”
* Playing in Furlong’s memory
Tomcats general manager Patti White said the team is dedicating its season to Bob Furlong. Furlong, the club’s former GM, died in February at the age of 58. He had been battling leukemia. Furlong had been with the 10-year league since its inception. White said the Tomcats will announce a Bob Furlong Day later this season. This year the HCBL will present a Bob Furlong Award to the player who best exemplifies the highest level of integrity, teamwork and leadership on and off the field.
* Former Tomcat drafted a third time
The Tomcats had five former players taken in the MLB Draft, more than any other HCBL club. First baseman Dillon Persinger, who played for the Tomcats in 2015, was picked in the 18th round by the Cleveland Indians. Before joining Cal State-Fullerton, Persinger was selected by Cleveland in the 31st round in 2015 and last year by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 17th.
Photo caption: Riverhead’s Alvin Melendez moved to the top of the league in batting average following his 3-for-4 game against North Fork on Sunday. (Credit: Ray Nelson)