Making it to the Promise Land: Pace Baseball player has goal of going Pro

Hailing from New Rochelle, Pace baseball outfielder believes his work ethic will help him get to the professional leagues.

Pace University Athletics.

Hailing from New Rochelle, Pace baseball outfielder believes his work ethic will help him get to the professional leagues.

Justis Nieves, Contributing Writer

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Becoming a professional athlete is one of the hardest things a person can achieve. Any kid who grew up playing sports thought about the possibility of going pro one day. Most of the time, as they grow older, the thought of playing at the highest level vanishes and they just do not have the desire anymore.

This, however, was not the case for Pace baseball’s Matt Almonte. The sophomore outfielder still has this aspiration. He hopes that all he has done in his baseball career thus far will lead him into the professional ranks someday.

“I do have aspirations to play professional baseball at the [Major League Baseball] level,” Almonte said. “It has been a goal and dream that I’ve been working toward since I was five years old.

If he does make it to the big leagues, Almonte’s determination and tenacity will certainly be a factor. Being determined is something that the outfielder is already accustomed to.

His high school coach, Pete Annunziata, praised Almonte’s work ethic. The coach said he began working out with the team during the eighth grade and by his sophomore year in high school, he was a starter for the New Rochelle High School Huguenots.

As a junior, Almonte was named a captain for the Huguenots. The summer going into his senior year he was training every day, his coach recalled.

“Matt wanted to succeed,” Annunziata said.

He was well-prepared for the 2017 season, but struggled as a hitter.

“My senior season in high school was much different than any other season,” Almonte recalled. “I felt the pressure to be ‘the guy’ and mentally it was tough. As a result, I struggled by my standard as a hitter. However, as a pitcher, I had the best season of my career as a senior.”

The New Rochelle native had an excellent season, being selected to both the All-League and All-Section teams, as well as being named the League Pitcher of the Year. His final year at New Rochelle was one to be remembered. Possibly the best highlight from the season was Almonte setting the record for saves in a single season. The education major “shattered” the previous record of five saves with nine of his own. At the end of the season, that hard work, dedication and determination paid off.

Following his senior campaign, Almonte made the decision to play in a Setters uniform at Pace. Transitioning from high school to college can be difficult for the average student, but especially for a student-athlete. Often times athletes struggle with athletic responsibilities, as well as trying to complete college-level work. However, this was not the case for Almonte.

“The transition from high school baseball to the college level was significant,” Almonte stated. “The hours of training increased dramatically making durability a real factor. Also, the physicality is much higher than so in high school. There are more resources and the coaches are much more invested in college. Personally, the transition was not difficult but overall there was definitely a big difference.”

When Almonte’s freshman year began, he had an immediate impact on the team. He started in 29 games, finished with 16 RBIs, and even batted 1.000 in a game against American International College. He was also selected to the NE-10 All-Rookie Team.

Almonte’s career at Pace may help pave the way for a possible shot with an MLB squad in the future. The journey will call for patience but determination will always stand with Almonte. In the outfielder’s second season, he will look to improve upon his impressive performance last season and help Pace reach a positive record after going 16-22-1 last season.

Thus far, the Setters have gone off to a good start, with a season opener victory over LIU Post on March 1 at Peter X. Finnerty Field.

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About the Writer
Justis Nieves, Contributing Writer

Hey, my name is Justis Nieves and I’m a writer for the Pace Chronicle. I’m a freshman communications major and soon-to-be minor in journalism from...

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