After spending most of 2010 at Triple-A, Yonder Alonso returned to Louisville to begin the 2011 season. The former first-round Draft pick caught fire after a slow start and never posted an OPS lower than .871 over the final four months.
Called up to Cincinnati at the end of July, Alonso flashed some of the talent that made him a top-50 prospect entering the 2011 campaign. The University of Miami product batted .330 with five homers and 15 RBIs in 47 games, mostly as a pinch-hitter.
A first baseman by trade, Alonso had his path to the Majors blocked by 2010 National League MVP Joey Votto, so he spent a lot of time in left field. He'll get a chance to return to his natural position in 2012, thanks to the offseason trade that sent him, catcher Yasmani Grandal and pitchers Brad Boxberger and Edinson Volquez to San Diego for right-hander Mat Latos. Alonso talked about the trade and the door it figures to open for him.
MiLB.com: How did you find out about the trade?
Yonder Alonso: Well, I was on vacation with my friends and family and I was getting ready to go to a soccer game and I got a call from [Reds general manager] Walt Jocketty, basically telling me that I had been traded to San Diego.
MiLB.com: What was your reaction?
Alonso: It was a couple of reactions. At first, I was a little surprised and I didn't know much about San Diego. And as I started talking to the general manager and some buddies who played for San Diego, it was nothing but good things and I was grateful for the opportunity. I got a couple of friends, one is Eddy Rodriguez, Blake Tekotte, and the other one is Jason Hagerty.
MiLB.com: Do you feel like the trade will be good for you, given that you were blocked at your natural position in Cincinnati?
Alonso: Definitely, I think it's a great trade. I think everyone knows that I was blocked by an MVP. Everyone knows it was tough on my part playing a different position, but I was happy with the outcome. I had to change my ways in the offseason, and now I have a chance to play my natural position and it's something I'm looking forward to.
MiLB.com: Are you concerned that you're moving to a stadium with a reputation as a pitcher's park in Petco Park.
Alonso: No, I think that it will be a good learning experience. I'm a line-drive hitter; I don't consider myself a power hitter. I think it will be a good experience -- I think you become a better hitter. If I can become more polished, that will be good for my career.
MiLB.com: What have you done during the offseason to get ready for the 2012 season?
Alonso: Working a lot and doing everything that I have to do to get better. Training, training, training. That is pretty much how my days go. I catch ground balls, I do a little bit of rehab to get a little strong. People think that [in] the offseason you don't do much, but I feel like I do more in the offseason than during the season.
MiLB.com: You got off to a slow start last season. What happened and how did you turn things around?
Alonso: I think that the slow start was just something that I don't really ... it happens a lot. All my years playing the game, I have started off a little slow. I think it has to do with a little bit of timing and not playing games. After that, it picks up for me and I calm down and not try to do too much. I learned a lot from it. When I got to the bigs [last] year, I let things come to me.
MiLB.com: What was your favorite Minor League park to play in as a visitor?
Alonso: That's [Huntington Park] in Columbus, Ohio. That was definitely one of my favorites. It's a great hitters' park, and the fans are great there.
MiLB.com: How exciting was it to play in two All-Star Futures Games?
Alonso: That was awesome. It felt pretty cool the first time I was there. The second time, it was very unique. I knew what to expect. It was a great experience. I feel like every prospect should go through that experience, just enjoy it and take it all in.
MiLB.com: You saw some time in the big leagues in 2011 and played well. What's the biggest thing you can take away from that?
Alonso: Just letting the game come to me and work hard every day. It's just the same game with better players, and it's a littler faster. Obviously, you have to stay even-keeled. This game is so hard that you can not do well, but you can't feel bad. I learned a lot from [last] year -- definitely just letting the game come to you and not force things.
MiLB.com: What are some of the things you like to do on a day off?
Alonso: Definitely go to the movies. I'm a big movie guy. I usually try to spend as much time as I can hanging out at my house or at the movies. I just saw War Horse, and that was a pretty interesting movie. That was a good movie, it was a touching movie.
MiLB.com: What are some of your favorite movies?
I'd have to go with Scarface. I like Troy and, obviously, Major League is by far the best baseball movie.
MiLB.com: What are some of the songs on your iPod?
Alonso: I have a little of everything, I'm a big Jay-Z fan. I like all the old-school stuff from the '80s. I like a little bit of Latin music as well; it depends on the mood I'm in. In the morning, I listen to Jay-Z. It gets me going. I like that new song -- it's called "Glory" -- and "Ham".
MiLB.com: If you weren't playing baseball, what would you be doing?
Alonso: I'd probably be in school still, definitely getting my degree. My major was sociology and my minor was psychology. I'd probably do something in the field like a firefighter or a teacher. But definitely something with sports on top of that.