First-round pick off to quick start for Aeros
DOWNTOWN AKRON — It’s always nice when you get to work near your home.
Right-hander Alex White, of the Akron Aeros, began this season pitching for Class-A Kinston. It’s a locale with which he’s well acquainted.
“I grew up about 20 minutes from Kinston,” said White, whose hometown is Greenville, N.C. “It was great. I have a lot of friends and family there.”
Was there extra pressure pitching in front of familiar faces?
“I don’t think there’s any pressure,” said White. “It’s just a lot of fun being in a part of the state where I was comfortable, where I had been for so long.”
White, who was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the first round of the June 2009 draft, was not destined to be in North Carolina long. After 44 innings’ work in Class-A ball, he was promoted to Akron May 23.
White was given the news of his promotion by Kinston’s manager, Aaron Holbert, and the team’s pitching coach, Tony Arnold.
“It was a great opportunity, and I was very excited they felt that much of me to play for this team,” said White.
White has gotten off to a good start with the Aeros. He won his first start, going seven strong innings in the Aeros’ 5-2 victory over Harrisburg May 23. He threw six innings of shutout ball before surrendering two runs in the seventh.
“We accomplished our goal, to give our team a chance to win, to work deep in the game,” said White. “It was a great start, a great outing. I enjoyed the atmosphere and enjoy being here in Akron.”
White, 21, also threw well in his second Double-A start, though the outcome was not as favorable. He took the loss as the Aeros were defeated by Binghamton 2-1 May 28.
In high school, White was an infielder, along with being a pitcher. (White’s brother Travis was also an infielder, playing a year of pro ball.) When he moved on to the University of North Carolina (UNC), he learned what the dual roles would entail at the higher level.
“It really wore me down in my freshman year of college, trying to work in the infield and also getting my stuff done for pitching,” he said. “They gave me the opportunity, but I knew the way to go was pitching.”
One of White’s highlights at UNC was in his sophomore year, when the Tar Heels were in the finals of the 2008 College World Series, eventually finishing third.
“We had some great games,” said White. “We had two nights in a row where we hit walk-off home runs, and I entered the games in the eighth or ninth innings in both those games and got the wins. It was one of those times where we were getting the right breaks, and we were hitting the ball at the right time. Just to get two big at-bats like that was just something I’ll never forget.”
The Indians hope more unforgettable wins are in White’s future.
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