Friendships are formed in specific ways. First, you have to be around each other, and then get to know each other on a personal level. Good friendships begin with shared interests, and help with the bonding experience. There is one special way that friendships are built in the baseball world, and that's in sharing a clubhouse with each other. Teammates have some of the greatest bonds and friendships, and the Angels have a duo in the lurks of their farm system that built a friendship long before they were both in the Angels system.
Prior to the 2015 Minor League season getting underway, Scout.com Senior Publisher, Taylor Blake Ward, spoke with two of the highest rising prospects in the Los Angeles Angels farm system, Eric Alonzo, and Bo Way.
Right-Handed Pitcher, Eric Alonzo, is set to spend some time in extended Spring Training with the Angels after posting a 2.01 ERA and 1.277 WHIP, while holding bats to a .252/.298/.333 slash in Rookie Ball last season. He also struck out 27, while walking just nine and had 11 of his 16 outings go scoreless. As a 40th rounder, Alonzo took pride is showing he could compete with all those who were drafted higher than he did.
Outfielder, Bo Way, spent his first professional season tearing apart the Pioneer League (Rookie Ball) and Midwest League (Class-A). In Rookie Ball, Way hit .354/.397/.554 in 32 games, with 12 doubles, four triples, two home runs, 27 RBI and 29 runs scored. In Class-A, Way didn't slow down, posting a .339/.424/.461 slash in 29 games, with 10 of his 29 games go for multiple hits, and four go for three hits or more. Way reached base in 22-straight games in August, where he reached base in 43 of his 100 plate appearances.
You may be asking why we are bringing attention to both prospects at the same time. Well, Bo Way and Eric Alonzo have a special past with each other, prior to both being Angels prospects. In the early stages of their baseball careers, Way and Alonzo spent time together, playing at Middle Georgia College. They both have a special bond as teammates and friends. They both spent time taking MGC to a Regional Appearance.
Both Alonzo (#67) and Way (#27) were brought to your attention in our Top 100 Prospect Countdown, and for good reason. These are two guys who have already shined at the professional level, and are looking to take more and more steps towards reaching the ultimate goal of playing with each other at the Major League level.
Below, Eric Alonzo and Bo Way share some experiences from college, professional baseball, and the future.
TBW : First off, where did you two first meet and what was your first take of each other?
Alonzo : We met at Middle Georgia College when I was a freshman and Bo way a sophomore. He came right in. We had a pretty core group, and he fit right in and was pretty good for us the whole year.
Way : I think the first memory I have of him, I was going to an eight-o-clock class and it was about 7:45. I saw "Zo" on his knees throwing. He was long tossing with a bucket of balls, and it was a pretty cool to see. I think that was the first memory I have of him.
TBW : Can you share a fun story of your days at Middle Georgia College?
Way : One of our pitchers at middle, he had a temper right? So if he didn't throw well, he would take a ball when he'd come off the mound and try throw it over the outfield wall. We were at Auburn University, and he comes out of the bullpen and struck two out, walked a guy, and got a ground ball. He had a solid inning on the mound. After the game was over, he came off the mound, takes the game ball and heaves it over the wall at Auburn. Our coach comes out, and he says, "James, there could have been girls walking to class!" and he goes, "no, no, I checked." and that was the big thing Eric and I talk about all the time. We actually joked about it the other day.
Alonzo : I remember this one time my freshman year, I came in to clean up for one of our starters. He didn't throw well that day, I don't think he got out of the first. I threw six innings out of the 'pen and I remember getting really pissed at Bo this one time. I gave up a hit with a runner on first, and the guy scored from first. I was pissed at Bo, Bo way pissed at me because I was a freshman pissed at him. Other than that, Bo is probably the hardest players I've ever played with and that's probably the only time I can ever think of anything negative about him.
TBW : Were you two together when you got drafted?
Way : I was actually at home playing basketball with some of my friends because I was mad thinking I wasn't going to get drafted (laughs). I was picked up the next day. The coolest part was that the guy that called us and told us we were going to get drafted was the coach at Middle. That was very cool. I would've signed for anything because it was him.
Alonzo : I was getting off the bus at Super Regionals in Lousiville and got a call from Todd Hogan, the scout that signed us, and said the Angels wanted to take me with whatever pick, and I got off the bus and got to see my name and it was really special.
TBW : Tell me about your professional debut and the first experience you had.
Alonzo : I was nervous being a 40th rounder, but as soon as I threw the first pitch, it was against the third baseman from Florida State. I broke his bat and covered first on the very first pitch I threw in professional baseball. I can just say that Georgia Southern has Florida State's number (laughs).
Way : It was getting really cold in Orem. I was facing a righty and he was throwing in the mid 90's. I had a bad at bat going, I started off 1-2, and battled back to 2-2 and hit a line drive to the right fielder. I think I was more relieved getting the first at bat out of the way. I hit the ball hard, but it was a stress reliever and it was comforting to get that at bat out of the way.
TBW : How did your first year of professional baseball go and what was the best part of it?
Way : The whole year was kind of a blur. It was a great year. I met a much of great guys. I feel like I was just along for the ride after playing around 50 games. It was great, I met a bunch of good people. Actually my roommate from last year was Wade Wass from Alabama and we battled in the regional. There's a lot of things that I could point out, but the big thing is meeting new people and playing with guys who are really good and getting to face the best pitching and playing against the best players. It's really fun.
Alonzo : I think my biggest thing was being a 40th round draft pick and signing as a junior. It probably wasn't the smartest idea for most people but I came out here and had success no matter what other people may have thought. No matter what happens, I'll just always know that as a 40th round pick I came out and threw about as good as anyone else.
TBW : Do you have any goals for this upcoming season? Is there somewhere specific you'd like to be?
Alonzo : I'd like to go to Burlington but as long as I have a number on my back, I'll be happy.
Way : I feel the same way. Wherever they put me, I want to play every day and help the team wherever I can go.
TBW : If you both ended up playing on the same team, whether it's Inland Empire, Burlington, or Rookie Ball, how special would it be to play together again?
Alonzo : It'd be really cool because you know for sure you have a guy take one extra base for you.
Way : I know I can trust Eric every time. On the mound, he does what he does out there and he's gonna challenge you every single at bat. I know if I had to put someone out there every time, it'd be "Zo."
TBW : Sorry Eric, but I have to ask Bo about his first Spring Training game with the big club.
Way : It was a rush. I didn't think I was going to get in because Trout and Cowgill and Joyce played, and then the backups came in. I figured they were going to play the last three, but they took the left fielder and played him at first base. I got a line drive hit at me with a runner on first, and I don't know what happened, but I saw the runner come off first so I hurled it to first and got a little made fun after that. I haven't played left much so I let it ride and it was good fun.
Alonzo and Way are both looking towards the future, and a long career in baseball. Both have met the standard of not only being professional baseball players, but excelling against the strongest talents. In a quick conversation with Alonzo, he has made his mechanics and delivery much more repetitive, as well as learned a new cutter and improved all his pitches, reaching near mid-season velocity on his fastball. Bo Way made a special appearance in a Spring Training game with the big club and showed off his talents of strong defense and an advanced approach at the plate
With the minor league season less than a week away, both young studs in the Angels farm system are looking to make noise in 2015. These two are definitely a pair of friends you need to keep tabs on this year and beyond, for the extensive parts of their careers.
For more updates on the Los Angeles Angels, their prospects, and our Top 100 Prospects Countdown, follow us on Twitter, @AngelsOnScout.
Taylor Blake Ward is a Senior Publisher for InsideTheHalos.com, and can be found on Twitter, @TaylorBlakeWard.