St. Paul Saints outfielder Troy Alexander’s welcome to professional baseball was a rather painful one of sorts. The American Association club signed him as a free agent July 14. He made his pro debut later that night against Winnipeg.
Alexander reached base on his first at-bat thanks to getting hit by a pitch. “I got hit right in front of the knee,” he recalled of being plunked. “It was a straight fastball. It hurt for a moment. What a way to be welcomed to professional baseball.”
Almost two months earlier, the 22-year-old Alexander was finishing up his collegiate baseball career at Arkansas-Little Rock. His first year there (2018) he led the Trojans with seven home runs and 40 RBI.
This past season, he finished second on the team with 12 homers and 13 doubles and scored 39 runs. He posted 12 multi-hit games and homered in his last college game in late May, making the Sun Belt Conference All-Tournament Team.
He also played baseball at Alvin (Texas) Community College in 2017. Now a Saint, Alexander essentially replaced former St. Paul outfielder Burt Reynolds, who was traded to Sioux Falls July 2 as the team’s only Black player.
“They have taken me in with open arms,” the rookie said of his new teammates. His journey to the Capitol City, almost like his painful debut, wasn’t smooth either. Alexander was bypassed in the June baseball draft.
“Unfortunately, I didn’t get my name called,” he continued. “I tried out a lot of different avenues [and] tryouts. Nobody pulled the trigger on me.”
But when the roster came down to just one outfielder after a player’s contract was purchased by MLB’s Arizona Diamondbacks, St. Paul quickly sought to fill the spot and signed Alexander. “Fortunately, St. Paul was the first ones to actually go all in on me…to give me an opportunity to play,” the 6’-4” 215-pound outfielder noted.
“I’ve loved [baseball] ever since I was two, three years old,” Alexander recalled. “It was the first thing, the first ball my dad put into my hand. I fell in love with it.”
Speaking after a game last week, Alexander said, “It has been a real cool experience. I learned a lot from the guys.” The hotter-than-normal July weather he encountered since his arrival — he’s never been in Minnesota before — has taken him aback: “It’s warmer than I thought it would be.”
The Saints outfielder last weekend got hit again — this time, finally, with his bat. His first career hit was a line-drive single, and Alexander later added a double as he knocked in all three runs in a 12-inning, 3-2 victory last Friday at Fargo-Moorhead.
He lined a two-run single the following night in another one-run win, and got three more hits, an RBI, and scored a run Sunday in the Saints’ three-game sweep and the league-best 40-21 at the mid-season break.
St. Paul resumes regular-season play Wednesday after hosting the American Association All-Star Home Run Derby on Monday, and the 2019 All-Star Game on Tuesday.
Alexander is glad to be with the club whose motto is “Life is Fun.”
“I’m blessed to be here in this atmosphere,” he said.