Giovanny Alfonzo knows all about the attention a last name can bring. Not a day goes by in which the Ducks utility man isn’t asked about his famous uncle, former Met (and Duck) Edgardo Alfonzo, who played in Queens from 1995-2002. For some, a famous last name can be perilous, especially for those trying to make their own way in an identical field, but Giovanny, 24, basks in it.
“I love it,” he said. “[Edgardo] was very respected and loved in New York. It’s pretty cool.”
Alfonzo grew up in Port St. Lucie and has fond memories of watching his uncle, a fan-favorite who was affectionately nicknamed ‘Fonzie,‘ each night on television.
“When he was with the Mets, every single night we had Fox Sports Net on,” Alfonzo said. “I would go home, get my homework done after practice, and at 7:05 p.m. and first pitch, I was there watching my uncle and the guys go at it.”
The two are extremely close, with Giovanny living with Edgardo in Queens while the former All-Star manages the Brooklyn Cyclones. In fact, after Giovanny was released by the Marlins in spring training, Edgardo got on the phone and found his nephew a new baseball home.
“I had a couple teams call me in a couple of different leagues,” Alfonzo said. “I wanted to play in the Atlantic League, but a lot of the teams were filling up. [Edgardo] called [Ducks manager] Kevin [Baez]. Kevin needed a utility guy, so that’s how that opened up.”
And Alfonzo has made the best of the opportunity. Entering the Duck’s weekend series with Lancaster, he ranked third on the team in batting, hitting .290 with seven RBIs in 62 at-bats.
“I think I’ve proven that I’m able to play at this level and be an asset to the team,” Alfonzo said. “Whether I’m in the lineup or not, [Baez] is going to make the best lineup he can for each day. If I’m in there, I’m going to play as hard as I can and, if I’m not, I’m going to be the best teammate that I can, and if I get called on during the game, be ready to go.”
After Nolan Reimold went down with an injury to his side earlier this month, Alfonzo was thrust into an everyday role. He shined in the spotlight, with his average rising more than 100 points in a little over two and a half weeks.
“When I first got here, I knew my role was a utility guy,” Alfonzo said. “I was going to be bouncing around, so I wasn’t paying too much attention to the smaller details because I wasn’t in there every day. When Reimold went down and I was in the lineup every day, I started concentrating more and putting more into my pregame routine, getting in the cages and stuff like that.”
Pacheco Joins Ducks
Another former major-leaguer is calling Central Islip home. Jordan Pacheco, 31, who played parts of six seasons with the Rockies, Diamondbacks, and Reds, signed with the Ducks Friday. Pacheco, a utility man who can play catcher, hit .272 with 114 RBIs and 10 home runs in 377 games over six seasons. His best year came with the Rockies in 2012, when he hit .309 with 54 RBIs and five home runs in 132 games.
To make room for Pacheco, the Ducks released catcher Dominic Blanco, who played eight games with the Ducks and hit .190 in 21 at-bats.
Entering the weekend, the Ducks’ pitching staff had three of the four best ERAs in the Atlantic League. Floral Park native Dennis O’Grady held the top spot, posting a 2.17 ERA in seven games (four starts, 29 innings pitched). John Brownell, who many believe is the best cumulative pitcher in the franchise’s history, was third with a 2.49 mark in seven starts (39.2 innings) and Tim Melville was fourth, with a 2.58 ERA in six starts (31.1 innings).
Bridgeport’s Rainy Lara was second in the ERA race, entering the weekend with a 2.25 mark in five starts (32 innings).
Next Up: Lancaster @ Ducks, 1:35 p.m. Sunday