Going into the season's final weekend, Xavier Altamirano ranks eighth in the New York-Penn League in ERA with a 2.48 mark. The right-hander has had a strong season for the Lake Monsters, striking out 57 and walking only 10 in 65.1 innings. He was a mid-season New York-Penn League All-Star this season.
Altamarino was the A's 27th-round pick last season out of Oral Roberts. He spent his pro debut season with the Arizona Rookie League A's and then made his 2016 debut with Low-A Beloit. Altamarino pitched out of the Snappers' rotation for the first five weeks of the season. He landed on the DL on May 24th and spent the rest of the first half in Arizona before joining the Lake Monsters at the start of the short season. Since returning to the mound with Vermont, Altamarino, who turned 22 in late July, has been very effective. His WHIP is 1.07 and he has allowed only three homeruns.
Donald Moore spoke with Altamarino during a late July Vermont roadtrip.
Donald Moore: Xavier, how is everything going for you so far this season?
Xavier Altamarino: For now, it's going pretty well. I have had my ups and downs, but that is part of the game.
DM: What are your goals for this year?
XA: Goals as of right now are continue what I am doing, grow as a person, grow as a player, mature more and I have a lot more room for improvement. Stick and find the routine that is permanent for me, so I can stop searching for it. So everyday I can know what I have to do.
DM: What do you feel is your greatest strength as a ballplayer?
XA: It can be many things. One I believe is learning from my failures. It is a game of failure. Understanding what I need to fix, remembering the things I did wrong so I don't do it again. Besides that, my strength is competitiveness. I don't allow myself to get intimidated or get scared or caught up in the moment. I come in with the mentality of I'm here for a reason and just have confidence in myself in every pitch that I throw.
DM: What would you'd like to improve on?
XA: Honestly, improve on everything. Like I said earlier in this conversation, I'm not perfect. I have my faults, but I can improve on everything to just become a better player.
DM: How are you acclimating to professional baseball?
XA: I like it. I love my teammates. The coaches are great, everything around me is a great atmosphere.
DM: What is the best thing about being a pro ballplayer?
XA: It's a dream. It's a dream come true. Many wish to be in this position. I feel blessed to be here for this opportunity and I'm just soaking it up as much as I can.
DM: What is the hardest thing about being a professional athlete?
XA: Just competition everywhere. Look around and you see people just as good as you, some even better, but I don't necessarily see this as the hardest thing but as a motivation. Also I miss my family. Since this is my first full season, being apart from my family is tough, but for the most part, that is it.
DM: Any pre-game routines?
XA: I show up earlier. I like to start really early compared to most pitchers. I tend to listen to music, mainly gospel music. I'll read a book, try to get my mind right and thinking in the right direction, but I don't want any distractions around me as much as possible, and continue with my pre-warm up, routine stretch and head out to the field.
DM: Any hobbies?
XA: I love to work on cars. I do play the guitar, and for the most part, that is pretty much it. I'm very outgoing in sports. Any other sports, being outdoors and stuff like that.
DM: Favorite baseball team growing up?
XA: That is kind of hard from my position. I grew up with three older brothers, and my dad had a different team, so everyone had their own team. It was like flip-flopping all the time so it was kind of hard for me just to choose a specific team, but to be honest with you, I grew up to be an A's fan.
DM: Where are you originally from?
XA: I'm from Douglas, Arizona.
DM: If there is one person who taught you the most about baseball, who would that be?
XA: That would be my dad, for sure. Growing up, my dad was always finding out what I can improve on. He never missed a game since I first started playing until the end of my second year in junior college. My dad has showed me everything and to have confidence in myself, be strong mentally, to leave things in the past because tomorrow is another day. He showed me almost everything I needed to know about this game.
DM: Craziest thing you have ever seen on a baseball diamond?
XA: I mean, I have seen everything growing up, fights, and other crazy stuff, but it would be hard to pick and choose just one thing.
DM: Any off-season plans?
XA: Get back to work, for sure. I know there are some things I want to work on. I already have in mind stuff I want to do consistently, to come into next season, fully or more prepared than I was before. I'm just excited for it to be honest. I know there is something inside of me that I need to show what I can do, so I'm excited to work on it and get better at doing it.
DM: I want to thank you for your time and the best of luck to you and your career.
XA: Thank you, sir.