TigsTown: You've now signed with the Tigers and gotten your career underway, how does it feel?
Billy Alvino: I'll tell ya, it's a dream come true! When they said ‘congratulations you're a Detroit Tiger,' all my dreams came true. My main goal was just to get my foot in the door, then work hard and try to progress. It's really just a dream come true!
TT: Were you aware that the Tigers were really interested, or were there a bunch of teams knocking on your door?
BA: There were a few teams talking to me before the draft. The Tigers though, they sort of came out of left field with everything. But the organization is great. Coach Andy Barkett, the GCL guys, they are all great guys. I couldn't be more happy. This is a great situation.
TT: Were you sitting around on draft day expecting you might go late, or were you expecting to be a non-drafted free agent?
BA: We were sitting there a bit. I was trying to keep myself busy though. I never take anything for granted. It just wasn't meant to be that way, but that's fine. I'm still getting the chance to play pro baseball, so that's fine. Like I said, I just wanted to get my foot in the door any way possible.
TT: Now that you've gotten started with your pro career, what are some of the goals you have set for yourself?
BA: Just everyday trying to learn something new, especially being up here with the Lakeland club, some of the older guys. Everyday I'm just trying to be a sponge, and learn some different things from hitters, catching philosophies, the pitching coach, anybody. Really, I am just trying to get better and learn things. I just want to learn everything I can this year, soak it in, and try to enhance the game.
TT: You played just a couple of games in the GCL to start, then there was a minor injury to Jordan Newton that had you come up to Lakeland, what's the difference that you've seen in the talent between the two levels.
BA: The biggest thing I've seen is the pitching. They have a little bit more control I think. It's a little bit more of a mind game. These pitchers have a little bit more of a plan. I think that's the biggest difference.
TT: I talked to Coach Cozart (High Point) yesterday for a little while, and he was speaking very highly of the refined approach you've started to take to hitting this past year. Have you been able to carry over that approach to pro ball, or have you had to tweak it some?
BA: Everything that I've learned, I've tried to take over to pro ball. Like I said, I'm trying to learn different things while I'm here, but basically I'm just trying to take the same basic approach. What got me here; I'm trying to keep using.
TT: I mentioned the big year you had at High Point, hitting over .400, what was something that clicked for you that really allowed you to have that kind of year and lead the offense?
BA: I think I just relaxed at the plate and let the game come to me. Just letting the ball come to me, and waiting for my pitch, made a huge difference.
TT: Coach Cozart was also very complimentary of your defensive abilities, just raving about them. How would you describe your ability to receive pitches and call the game, and what do you think you need to improve on at the next level to make yourself a real asset to the pitching staff?
BA: Before Coach Cozart came in, I called most of our games, but when he came in he took over that role. I learned a lot from him during that time. With me, I think its just the quickness of my feet, my footwork, and my arm strength that helps me. The one thing I think I really want to work on is just studying the game, studying each hitter, and learn what the pitcher likes.
TT: The Tigers are renowned for drafting guys that have a ton of arm strength, just a ton of velocity. You've got a few of them there in Lakeland in guys like Scott Green and Mauricio Robles. Has that been an adjustment for you, just trying to receive the ball and maintain your defensive prowess?
BA: I think the biggest thing is just getting comfortable with the pitcher. Sometimes the velocity can be problematic if he has a lot of movement, but just getting comfortable and used to them, helps a ton. Those guys are tremendous athletes. Scott Green is just a freak of nature. After catching each of the guys once through, you start to get comfortable.
TT: Going back a little bit to your debut as a pro, how did it feel to step into the batters box for the first time? What was your thought process at that time?
BA: It was surreal. When I stepped in there I was hoping it was the beginning of something special. It was like the icing on the cake. I knew my parents and all my family were behind me. I just tried to soak it in. I just wanted to put the bat on the ball. I ended up grounding out to short, but that's better than striking out!
TT: Last question for you, Billy. If you've got one of our readers that's heading out to the ball park with their first opportunity to see you on the field, what do you think they are going to see from you?
BA: I just bring that old style of baseball. I try to go out there and play as hard as I can everyday. Everyday there is someone in the crowd that probably hasn't seen me before, so I just try to leave it all out on the field. I've got and old school mentality for the game where I'm going to hustle and get dirty if I need to.
TigsTown would like to thank Billy for taking a few minutes to speak with us about his college career and the start to his pro career. We look forward to seeing his gritty style on the field!