Local players trying out for national team
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. --The anticipation for Alex Bregman ended quickly.
"I was the first person called," he recalled. "It went alphabetically."
Nevertheless, it ended what could have been the most-stressful period in the Albuquerque Academy sophomore's young life.
"All the butterflies immediately went away," he said. "I was just happy and relieved."
He's talking about the time last month when officials from USA Baseball culled a team of 16 teenagers from a group of some 200 candidates from the Rocky Mountain Region to compete this week in Cary, N.C., for a spot on the U.S. National age-group team that will be traveling to South America for a tournament.
Bregman was joined on the squad by fellow New Mexicans Jeffery Ham of La Cueva, Kane Fierro and Dev'n Ortiz out of Carlsbad, Kent Feeling of Hope Christian, Daniel Herrera of Albuquerque and Tristen Telles out of Las Cruces. The players will go through some skills and speed testing, then play a series of games against other regions.
"The chance to play for your country and wear USA is just such an honor," said the 16-year-old Bregman. "I want to make the team so bad."
It's something he's wanted since he began playing baseball seriously about eight years ago.
By seriously, that means religiously honing his skills by working out at the Albuquerque Baseball Academy on a near-daily basis. It means spending Christmas vacations at the San Diego State camp working on his hitting with the likes of Tony Gwynn.
It means attending attending every New Mexico camp working with coach Ray Brimingham. It means going to Tucson to the Arizona Wildcats camp and getting instruction from coach Andy Lopez.
It also means working out at the Southwest Sports Institute to improve his speed and agility.
"I just want to do everything I can to play baseball," Bregman said. "I just love it."
His assistant coach with the Chargers, Chris Alexander, said there's little Bregman can not accomplish in the sport.
"He's the real deal," said Alexander, who played for the Lobos and had a brief professional stint in the Minor Leagues.
A starter for Academy since he was a freshman, Bregman went relatively unnoticed last season as star Max Walla gathered all of the attention.
But Bregman made a huge statement in the Class 4A State Championship game when he lined a shot out of Isotopes Park, where the L.A. Dodgers' Triple A team plays its home games.
"That was just amazing, an amazing feeling," Bregman said. "To help your team by hitting a home run in the state championship game was incredible."
Home runs, however, are not something he really tries to accomplish.
"I'm a line-drive hitter," he said. "I try to get on base for the other guys behind me to drive in."
Bregman also brings boundless energy to the field.
"I'm hustling all of the time," he said. "I'm running everywhere because that's the way the game is supposed to be played."
Mike Foote, one of the ABA owners who also played Minor League ball, said Bregman can go as far as he wants in the game.
"He's got all of the physical tools," he said. "Now we have to see if he's got that David Eckstein, Dustin Pedroia mentally that he's going to show everybody that he can make it. "
One of Bregman's big goals is to earn a college scholarship and that's something that's well within the realm of possibility, Foote said.
"Barring an injury, he's a lock for D-1," he said. "Alex is a guy who competed his freshman year in high school. He was the starting shortstop on a state championship team as a freshman. Every since he was 10 years old, he playing up into a higher age group."
Bregman is the son of prominent Albuquerque lawyer Sam Bregman, who with wis wife Jackie own the NBA Development League team Albuquerque Thunderbirds. The elder Bregman played briefly with New Mexico, but his son has a chance to surpass his diamond exploits.
"I want to play professionally," Alex Bregman said. "Even a D-1 scholarship would be awesome. I want to go as far as I can in this game. I want to keep playing until I die. I just love it."
article updated on 09/16/09 10:10