Boerne Champion graduate still chasing his dream of playing big league baseball
Blake Allemand is a 2011 graduate of Boerne Champion and was a football and baseball standout for the Chargers. After a four-year career with the Texas A&M baseball team, Allemand has been playing professionally with the Milwaukee Brewers organization. The 27-year old is currently playing Triple A baseball with the San Antonio Missions and he recently sat down for a Q&A with the Boerne Star.
Q: What’s it like playing so close to home?
A: “It’s been really cool, it’s been a unique experience. I played on this field in high school a few times and I came to Missions games growing up as a kid. I always thought it would be kind of cool to play here and it turned out the Missions are affiliated with the Brewers this year. My parents let me live with them to save money on rent so it’s kind of a flashback going home after a game like in high school. They live close by (Boerne address) and it’s a little bit of a drive, but it’s nice being back with them this summer.”
Q: Do you have mixed emotions about playing so close to home and yet wanting to leave to move up in the organization?
A: “The goal is to get out of here as soon as possible because if I’m getting out of here it means I’m moving up to the major leagues and that would be a life-long dream. At the same time, if I’m going to be in a place where I’m not in the majors, this is probably as good a place as any. I’m back here at home where I grew up and I feel comfortable, it’s been a cool blessing to be so close to the major leagues and at a place so close to home.”
Q: Have you had to explain some of the Hispanic culture to your teammates such as what is a Flying Chancla?
A: “When we found out we were going to be affiliated with San Antonio I got text from all my teammates asking what’s the best place to live and what-should-I-expect type of stuff. I was getting kind of run-down with it, but I was telling them there’s great Mexican food and the tacos are unbelievable and that it would be a fun atmosphere. The culture is something I grew up with and embraced and I think they are starting to experience that themselves and see what I’m talking about.”
Q: There have been times this season where you’ve been on the inactive list, what has that been like?
A: “It’s been pretty frustrating, but it’s out of my control. There are guys that trickle down from the big league team that maybe weren’t expected to and as a result it has pushed me out. I kind of bounce on and off depending on injuries and moves. It’s been frustrating, but I’m just waiting for my opportunity and will make the most of it when I get in there.”
Q: How long will you keep playing professional baseball?
A: “I’ve been thinking about it because I’m getting to the point where I might want to get a real job and start a family, but I’m of the mindset that I’m going to give it all I’ve got. If I quit too soon, I think it’ll be something I regret the rest of my life and ask ‘what if?’ I’m trying to give this as fair a shake as I can. I don’t have a set date and I’m still going to try as hard as I can because my ultimate goal is to play in the major leagues. I’m so close and just one level away so it’s kind of hard to pass it up. I’ll give it a fair shot and play a few more years before I consider hanging it up.”
Q: What’s the best advice you’ve received as you chase your dream?
A: “I had a double AA coach that told me I have to be patient and keep working. He told me to keep grinding because the opportunities come when you least expect it. I have to stay positive and keeping playing.”
Q: You’ve played at A, AA and AAA levels of minor league baseball, what the biggest difference in levels?
A: “Just the consistency, people are more consistent at the higher levels. They’re able to repeat what they do more often, they’re more refined. You see a guy in Rookie ball throw 99 (mph) and they have no idea where it’s going and it’s terrifying. You get up here, guys are putting it where they want. They are able to repeat stuff and know the game, they’re smarter players.”
Q: What is your strength?
A: “I’m pretty versatile, I play some infield and outfield. Offensively, I bring consistent at bats, I’m not a power guy, but I can hit all parts of the field. You’re going to get reliable defense and a good at bat.”
Q: What areas do you need to improve?
A: “I think it’s constant growth as a player in general. If you ever think you’re set, you’re wrong because if you’re not getting better you’re getting worse. You can never get good enough. I’m a big mental guy so you have to be able to deal with positive and negative situations and be able to grind through stuff mentally. I can be streaky offensively so I need to be more consistent and I need to be able to swing the bat better for longer periods of time. Defensively, I need to improve my arm strength and foot work.”
Q: Who do you pattern your game after?
A: “Most utility guys, I model my game after them, but not too much. I like to be unique. I don’t try to be like anyone else. I’ll see certain guys and I might try to imitate some of what they do, but when it comes down to it, I’m focused on being myself and being the best I can be.”
Q: What’s the biggest misconception people have about playing minor league baseball?
A: “It’s pretty funny, people just image it’s what they see on TV, but the minor leagues is not glamourous at all. You’re living out of suit case for weeks at a time and you have some long travel days. In Triple A you can fly, but in the lower levels it’s 8 to 10 hour bus rides and sometimes you stay in hole-in-the-wall hotels. It’s a grind man, I think the biggest thing people are surprised about is the pay. In lower levels, we had 4 to 5 guys packed into a two-bedroom apartment just to cut the rent down a little bit. We’ve had people living on air mattresses in the kitchen and in the living room. When I tell people that, they’re surprised to hear it, but it’s part of the grind and that’s why the end goal is to get to the major leagues. Our favorite saying is ‘if you don’t like it, play better so you can get to the major leagues.’ The minor leagues is not as glamourous as you see on TV.”
Q: What advice would you give to someone that wants to play professional baseball?
A: “Things aren’t always going to go your way, you have to be able deal with that and keep moving. You have to embrace the failure and hardships because it’s not always going to be smooth sailing and easy. Some of the kids coming out of high school are studs and they haven’t experienced failure or hardship. They’re going to go through struggles and they have to work through that. You have to love the game and be prepared to work and you have to be mentally tough. If you do those three things, I think you’ll be alright.”
Q: Do you still keep in contact with some of your high school teammates and coaches from Boerne Champion?
A: “I still keep in touch with them off and on. Two that I keep in contact with are Derek Tyner and David Massey. I was in their weddings so it’s cool to still have that kind of relationship. They both live in San Antonio so it’s nice to have them around and talk with them. It’s cool that we’ve got that special connection. I also keep up with Coach Foster, he’s always been a big supporter and he’s a good dude and I’m happy that he’s still having so much success with the Chargers.”
Q: What would it mean for you to make it to the big leagues?
A: “It would be pretty incredible. Since I was four or five years old I was throwing the ball around with my dad and watching games on TV. When I was four-years old and I used to watch a full baseball game and he couldn’t believe I could do that. I’ve been working my whole life towards that goal and my parents have supported me in that endlessly as long as I’m willing to work for it. They took me all over the place - tournaments, practices and hitting lessons. I’ve been pretty blessed to have that kind of support from my family and I’m sure if I made it, it would be pretty emotional. I’m not sure how I would react, but I’m sure it would be pretty crazy.”