Growing up, Stephen Alemais wanted to be a major league shortstop like Derek Jeter.
If you looked outside the confines of Yankee Stadium, Alemais just may have been the best shortstop in the Bronx. The six-foot, slick fielding middle infielder was setting hitting records at All Hallows High School and was named All-District, All-City and All-League three years in a row.
Despite his achievements, Alemais was getting little attention from potential colleges. He may have been one of the best players in the largest city in America, but recruiters weren’t looking for ballplayers in New York.
“We realize how much talent is in New York, but New York harps so big on basketball and football that you kind of have baseball players get lost in the shuffle,” Alemais said. “They get overlooked by [players from] states like Florida, Texas and California.”
Alemais eventually transferred to a sports institute in Florida, where he finally got the attention of Tulane University. He played ball there through his junior year before being selected by the PIttsburgh Pirates in the third round of the 2016 draft.
His struggle to get noticed by colleges is the inspiration for 643 Recruit, which sets out to help teach high school players and coaches how to get a scholarship.
“Our goal really is to get people to see how much talent is in New York and educate the guys,” Alemais said. “It’s not just about baseball and having talent because you can have all the talent in the world, but if your GPA doesn’t meet the criteria at certain schools, then all of the talent in the world doesn’t mean anything.”
643 Recruit will be hosting its first seminar at Alemais’ alma mater Saturday. Alemais, his father and former Pirates All-Star Pedro Alvarez will speak and offer advice on the recruitment process and the journey from high school to college. Alvarez was born in the Dominican Republic and grew up in Washington Heights, making him the perfect speaker for the event.
“He’s pretty much our ambassador when it comes to what we’re trying to harp on and what we’re trying to get these kids to do,” Alemais said.
“At the end of the day, the percentages are against us when it comes to baseball. Not everyone’s going to make it to the major leagues. But if you can get a college education and set yourself up that you can have a good career, that’s our ultimate goal.”
The event will be live streamed through their Instagram page.
Alemais was kind enough to talk to the River Blast Podcast about 643 Recruit, his past season with the Altoona Curve and minor league life (including roasting his double-play partner Cole Tucker). The full audio is linked below.