It may seem like a minor move in the Nationals minor league system. It is, but it’s notable for whom it involves. Carlos Alvarez, the player formerly know as Smiley Gonzalez, was moved up this week to Class A Hagerstown from Class A Auburn, the Nationals’ rookie ball affiliate.
An injury at Hagerstown created a need and Doug Harris, the Nationals’ director of player development, felt Alvarez deserved a shot. Alvarez is in his sixth season in the Nationals minor league system and has never been above Auburn. He hit .306 in 32 games for Auburn last season but, at 26, is playing among 20-year-olds and first-time professional baseball players. He is not considered anything close to a prospect.
Now known as Carlos Alvarez — the infielder who faked his age (as four years younger than he claimed) and identity (as Esmailyn Gonzalez) before receiving a $1.4 million signing bonus in 2006 — remains in the organization. He spent the first portion of the year at extended spring training.
Listed as a designated hitter, Alvarez played 11 games, hitting .295, with Auburn this season. He has good hands as a defender and can play most infield positions, but is a stronger second and third baseman, Harris said.
“He really did a nice job in Auburn last year and hasn’t gotten that opportunity to get his feet on the ground in Hagerstown,” Harris said. “Statistically, it may not appear he was ready but he defends well and has worked his tail off for us.”
Harris said Alvarez will get an opportunity to play in Hagerstown, and it’s unclear now how long he will be there.
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