Many pitchers in professional baseball have been pitching since they were young; very few become pitchers after they have already been a position player at the professional rank. With that said, right-handed-pitcher, Aleson Escalante, has made such transition. Now finding success on the mound, Escalante was originally signed as an undrafted free agent in 2006 as a third baseman.
Escalante spent two seasons in the Blue Jays’ organization as a third baseman, first baseman, and outfielder before being transitioned into a pitcher before the 2009 season, “Signing with Toronto was emotional. I was 16-years-old when I signed with the Blue Jays,” he said. “I was signed as a third baseman and I played third in the Dominican Republic for two years before they thought it was best to switch me into a pitcher.”
The Venezuelan native began his professional career in 2007 with the Dominican Summer League (DSL) Blue Jays appearing in 56 games, batting .225 with four doubles, 20 RBIs, five stolen bases and 28 walks. He would return with the DSL Blue Jays in 2008 and appeared in 62 games batting .178 with three doubles, one triple, 14 RBIs, and seven stolen bases.
After a weaker performance offensively, the DSL coaching staff thought pitching might be a better fit for Escalante. And they were right. In his first year on the mound, the young prospect went 5-1 with five saves and a 2.45 ERA, striking out 32 and walking six in 36 2/3 innings of work with the DSL Blue Jays in 2009.
“After my second year in the Dominican, my coaches told me they wanted me to switch to a pitcher so I practiced the mechanics over and over again in the off-season. I had previously pitched in little league so I was happy that the transition went pretty well. I found success and I’ve been sticking with it ever since,” he said.
Escalante was promoted to the Gulf Coast League (“GCL”) Blue Jays in 2010, where his pitching success continued. He finished the year going 6-1 with a 1.77 ERA in 20 appearances. In over 35 innings of work, he recorded 27 strikeouts and 14 walks. He would post similar numbers in 2011, where he split his time with both the Vancouver Canadians and the Lansing Lugnuts, finishing the year with a 1-2 record and a 2.89 ERA, striking out nearly one batter per inning of work.
In 2012, Escalante was promoted to the Dunedin Blue Jays to start the 2012 season before returning to Lansing to finish the season after a slow start in the Florida State League. In 36 innings between A/A+ ball, the Venezuelan went 1-2 with a 6.06 ERA with 44 strikeouts, 21 walks, and one save in 65 1/3 innings.
Escalante credits a lot of the success he has found thanks in part to his pitch repertoire, which he admitted, he is still finessing, “I presently use four pitches; a four-seam fastball, a sinker, a slider and a change-up. Typically, my fastball sits somewhere between 88-90 mph.”
Now that his season is over, Escalante is looking forward to playing winter baseball in Venezuela, “In the off-season I play winter baseball to continue to stay in shape. I play winter ball so I can come back to spring training next year and try and make it to the next level. ”
“I’ll be working hard this off-season to prepare for 2013!”