Prep baseball: Quiet Alex Espinosa embraces leadership role at West

Prep baseball • West's Espinosa plays center field and pitches.
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For four years and through three coaches, Alex Espinosa has seen it all at West High. The center fielder and pitcher loves laying out for diving catches, testing runners with his arm or watching umpires call strikeouts.

While the coaching staffs might have changed at West, Espinosa's love of the game never has wavered.

"Since my freshman year, I always looked up to the seniors," he said. "They showed me how to play the game right. Now it is time for me to step up, to be the big role in keeping the guys going."

New coach Dan Shwam's roster is bursting at the seams with juniors and sophomores. He's asked the quiet Espinosa to do more than lead by example. The coach wants the senior to be the vocal leader needed on the field, and Espinosa readily accepted the challenge.

"He's the kid yelling, 'Hustle up!' when I'm calling the boys in," Shwam said. "He really does lead by example. He's a natural ballplayer who knows how to play the game right."

When not running down balls in center field, Espinosa is a starter in the three-man rotation with Mitch Imamura and Mason Abrath. Espinosa has been working with Shwam to improve his fastball, curve and changeup.

"The fastball is the backbone to our pitching — being able to work on precision and setting guys up," Shwam said. "With his stuff, Alex looks like a guy who can play at the next level."

Espinosa focuses only on his catcher when he's pitching. He believes it is freeing to trust the guys behind him to make the plays, which gives him the confidence to throw whatever is called.

"You gotta trust your outfield to get the plays in," he said. "In order to be successful, we all have to work as a team."

Espinosa is hopeful that the young Panther team can find a groove and take it into regional play. He wants to leave West knowing that he played his best and made a positive impact with this teammates.

"As long as I compete and played hard, I know I've done my job," he said. —

Alex Espinosa

Finished with a .350 batting average last season.

Also played football and basketball.

Plans to serve an LDS mission after high school, then would like to play baseball in college.