RIVERSIDE - Riverside City College third baseman Ignacio Alvarez was close to hanging up his cleats and calling it quits on the sport he loves prior to the 2022 season. With the challenges of the COVID-19 shutdown and other circumstances, he briefly saw the door closing.
After careful consideration and some persistence from Head Coach Rudy Arguelles, he decided otherwise and suited up for the Tigers. That decision his life changed forever.
On July 18, 2022 at approximately 12 p.m. pacific standard time, he heard his named called in the 2022 MLB First-Year Player's Draft by the Atlanta Braves as the 155th overall pick in the fifth round.
"It's a dream come true," said Alvarez. "I have been working my whole life for this moment and to hear my name called is a blessing."
The swift fielding, power-hitting third baseman was a catalyst to the Tiger's success this season highlighted by leading his team to a 2022 California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) State Championship, thus ending Riverside's 15-year title drought. His efforts earned him 2022 American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) All-American status and Orange Empire Conference (OEC) First-Team All-Conference honors.
"RCC will forever hold a special place in my heart. I didn't know if I would even play this year. Coach Rudy gave me a chance and I ran with it. I don't know where I would be without him and RCC."
In 48 games, Alvarez hit .370 with 68 hits, 44 RBI, 57 runs scored, 16 doubles, four triples and five homeruns. He posted a .582 slugging percentage and .494 on-base percentage. He recorded 21 multi-hit games and recorded at least one hit in 26 games. Furthermore, he held a 13-game hitting streak that stretched through the month of April leading into the state championship tournament. He reached safely in 15 of the last 16 games of the season.
"It's a great way to go out knowing that I will not be returning to RCC," said Alvarez. "It is bittersweet. I left a champion and to think my that my name may be displayed on the right field wall one day is amazing."
Alvarez is the second-highest player to be drafted in RCC baseball history and joins the likes of World Series Champion Jesse Chavez in the Braves' organization. His name is added to a list of draftees that include Bobby Kielty, Chris Stewart, Jesse Chavez, Delwyn Young, Tommy Hansen and many more.
The last player to be drafted was Garrett Irvin '19. He was the 2019 OEC Pitcher of the Year and was tabbed as "Mr. Irrelevant" in the 2019 MLB Draft by the Boston Red Sox. The last position player to be drafted was Daniel Martinez '18 by the Oakland Athletics.
(Nicho DellaValle, Riverside City College Athletics)
FRC's Christianson Selected in 15th Round by 'Rays
QUINCY - A former catcher turned Feather River College pitcher will now have the opportunity to continue his baseball career at the professional level.
Golden Eagle closer Jake Christianson was selected in the 15th round of the Major League Baseball draft today by the Tampa Bay Rays. Christianson was the 464th player taken overall and just the fifth player selected from the California Community College Athletic Association. He was the second player chosen from a CCCAA Northern Division school.
The 6-foot-5 righthander had pitched just two college innings prior to the 2022 season, coming to the program from St. Paul, Minnesota as a catcher.
"We are all super excited for Jake and his opportunity to compete at the highest level," said FRC coach Terry Baumgartner. "This just proves that you can achieve your dreams if you are willing to put in the work to get better."
Christianson blossomed as Feather River's closer in his first season on the job. He led the Golden Valley Conference with eight saves, and went 5-3 on the hill with a 1.66 ERA. He pitched 38 innings, gave up only 21 hits and had a sizzling 55 strikeouts. His strikeout to innings pitched ratio was 13.03, third best in the entire state at the junior college level.
Known to Feather River baseball fans as 'Hoser the Closer', Christianson had signed a National Letter of Intent with Division I Southern Illinois during the season. It is now expected that he will sign a professional contract with Tampa Bay.
Feather River College has had a baseball program for 25 seasons and have had 24 players selected in the MLB draft.
"Our coaching staff did a great job of helping Jake transform from a catcher to an elite pitcher in one year," Baumgartner added. "Our program does a great job of developing players, and this is another good example of what we can do for kids who are willing to work hard to develop into an elite player."
"I couldn't be happier for Jake and his family. He has an exciting road ahead."
Christianson and Feather River finished the 2022 season in the CCCAA Northern California finals, after winning the GVC and posting a 36-11 overall mark. They were listed ninth in the final state poll.
Christianson was named a Second Team ABCA/Rawlings Pacific Association Division All-American.
(Russ Blunck, Feather River Athletics)