Chen Alfonso Rivas, the Cubs’ Mexican first baseman, chose to play college baseball instead of signing as a professional, many believed that his hope of one day playing in the Major Leagues was gone… But they were wrong.
Rivas was born in Chula Vista, California. He spent his childhood next to his parents in Tijuana, where he started in baseball in the Municipal League. Shortly before entering high school, he immigrated with his family to the other side of the border, where he continued to play and upon finishing high school had offers from Major League organizations.
His decision was to continue his studies at the University of Arizona, which has a program that already boasts 105 major leaguers, most notably the immortal reliever Trevor Hoffman.
In my family it was not an option to stop studying”, said Rivas in an interview with Excelsior, and who in his first 19 games this season is batting .239 with two home runs and 10 RBIs. “I was well aware of that, long before I finished high school, but last year I still talked about it with my dad, and he told me ‘if they offer us that much money to sign a team, then we will sign’… they gave it”.
Rivas had an outstanding collegiate career with the University of Arizona Wild Cats. In his last year he was chosen as part of the ideal team of the United States collegiate system and it earned him that same 2018 to be chosen by the Oakland Athletics in the fourth round of collegiate recruitment.
The goal was always to play professional baseball and find a way to the Major Leagues,” says Rivas, who was traded to the Cubs in early 2020 for outfielder Tony Kemp, who arrived in Oakland. Last year, with only four seasons in the branches and 25 years old, they gave him the opportunity to play with the first team.
They always told me that the safest way to reach the Major Leagues was to sign before the age of 20, to reach the age of 25 or 26, that later it was more difficult and, the truth, is that now I turn back and spend more years in the leagues minors, especially in the lower categories, I don’t know if I would have endured it with the difficult conditions that arise. I think I made the best decision and here is the sample”.
This year Rivas is beginning to consolidate as the Cubs’ starting first baseman, however, it was not until last week that he realized what it means to be in the Major Leagues.
I was excited when they told me I was going to the big leagues, my first at-bat that I hit, they gave me the ball, but I think the excitement came now in San Diego, that I was able to see a lot of friends and family, especially my grandfather… That’s when I realized that I’m already playing in the Majors”.
-Alfonso Rivas was born in Chula Vista California on September 13, 1996. He has dual nationality.
-He made his Major League debut last season on August 29, 2021 with the Cubs, a team he came to instead from Oakland.
-He finished his college career with Arizona and was selected fourth in the fourth round of the draft.
THE NEW TITAN
First baseman, born in San Diego, but living in Tijuana, that sounds like a well-known story for Mexican baseball. In addition, Alfonso Rivas has many similarities in his way of covering the initial with Adrián González, the best offensive representative of national baseball in the last 15 years.
Every day they tell me that if I am something of Adrián, ”says Rivas with a laugh. “I’m glad to be compared to him, an honor for me because he was my idol as a child, I went to see the Padres to see him.”
González debuted in the Major Leagues in 2004 and two years later he became very popular in Mexico, after being the starting first baseman for the tricolor team in the first World Classic. Rivas wants to resemble González even in that.
I’m really ready to play the World Classic, I hope the call comes, because really, even though I was born in the United States, I’m more Mexican than anything else”.
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