Bregman cleared for NM 4A playoffs

High School : : General
Todd Gold        
Published: Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Albuquerque Academy MIF/C Alex Bregman had lofty expectations for his senior season. He set the New Mexico state record for home runs in a season (18) in 2011 and was named to the 2011 Perfect Game All-American Classic. He and his teammates were coming off a run to the state championship game in 2011, and scouts planned to follow him closely this spring.

The season got off to a rough start for the Chargers, as they opened the season 0-2 (against a pair of teams that would go on to qualify for the playoffs). But that disappointment was nothing compared to the blow they received on March 12 when a bad hop hit Bregman on the tip of the middle finger of his (right) throwing hand during pregame warmups. Bregman went on to go 2-for-4 in the Chargers' 7-0 win over Manzano that day. But x-rays would later reveal that the tip of the finger was broken and Bregman underwent surgery on March 14.

While a broken finger isn't a serious long term injury, the timing was very inopportune and it was widely assumed at the time that the injury would end Bregman's senior season.

Many speculated that the missed time practically assured Louisiana State, where Bregman is committed, of landing one of the top pure hitters from the high school ranks. It also led many to write off Albuquerque Academy's chances of making a run at the New Mexico 4A state title.

But yesterday Bregman got the news he had been hoping for all spring when he was medically cleared to return to action for Thursday's state quarterfinal matchup.

Bregman's high school coach Josue Ayala recounted "yesterday when he told our team he was back I've never seen that kind of light in their eyes," adding "that's backbone to us, he's our senior captain."

Albuquerque Academy is the No. 5 seed and will take on fourth seeded Farmington in the quarterfinals Thursday. The Chargers may be the lower seed, but with the return of their senior leader and the state's top prospect, they now look to be the favorite on paper. The bracket sets up to potentially match Academy up against Piedra Vista for a rematch of the 2011 state title game.

Bregman's draft stock took a hit this spring as a direct result of the injury. Bregman has played shortstop throughout his prep career, but his potential as a catcher with the ability to hit for a high average had intrigued scouts. The lost time has prevented scouts from not only getting a clearer picture of his future defensive home, but also a chance to follow his progress as a hitter. While one to three games are unlikely to do much to help organization's pin down his future defensive home, they will at least get one last look at him in game action before they have to make a tough decision on him.

Ayala said that the plan is for Bregman to hit leadoff and will likely play the outfield on Thursday.

While he'll only be able to play in three more games for Albuquerque Academy at most, his return to the field could have an impact that goes beyond the New Mexico 4A state playoffs.
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