Former Victoria HarbourCats shortstop Alex De Goti parlayed three standout West Coast League seasons with the club into a pro career that has seen him rise to Triple-A in the Houston Astros system, one step away from the majors.
Victoria was a memorable juncture in De Goti’s progress and he has never forgotten it, returning over the weekend to conduct a youth clinic at PISE with current HarbourCats head coach Brian McRae.
“It was great to see so many familiar faces and how much those kids I knew in Victoria have grown up,” said De Goti.
“I love coming back and giving back and feel welcome here. It’s a great city with great fans.”
De Goti wasn’t even a starter on his NCAA collegiate team at Long Beach State when he played summer ball in the WCL for Victoria. But everybody who witnessed his play at Royal Athletic Park clearly saw that he possessed an abundance of talent.
“I was not playing every day [in college]. But you can’t let the discouragements and tough moments get to you. They have made me who I am today,” said De Goti, who will be moving from Fresno, California, to Round Rock, Texas, this season as the Astros have shifted their Triple-A franchise closer to Houston.
It was those three starring summers in Victoria that gave De Goti the confidence he needed.
“All you need is an opportunity and that one guy in one organization to believe in you; and that organization was the Astros,” said the 24-year-old native of Miami.
And look at what can happen.
“Alex was one injury [to an Astros middle-infielder] away from playing in the majors last season,” said HarbourCats bench boss McRae, who was a 10-season major-league player.
McRae said De Goti is among “three or four” HarbourCats alumni he believes can be playing in the majors over the next few seasons to join homegrown former HarbourCats pitcher Nick Pivetta.
There were 27 former HarbourCats playing in the minor pros last season, according to team managing partner Jim Swanson.
You can get there from here.
“The latest ranking I saw had the WCL rated the No. 5 collegiate summer league in North America,” said McRae, who this year will enter his third season at the HarbourCats’ helm.
Meanwhile, the HarboutCats youth camp was deemed a success at PISE as De Goti, McRae and other clinicians put the young players through their paces.
“The kids want to learn,” said McRae.
“It’s important to keep them in baseball for as long as possible. They are the future coaches who will in turn give back.”
Or maybe a few will be the ones who go on to have careers like De Goti, Pivetta or McRae himself.