The Cuban kid from Miami becoming an Olympic speed skater was quite a long-shot. But now, Eddy Alvarez is beating the odds again, going from circling a track on ice to circling a diamond in minor league baseball.
"I love proving people wrong and I love people underestimating me," Alvarez told NBC 6. "It's just always kind of been how my whole life has kind of fallen."
Alvarez, the son of Cuban immigrants, won a silver medal at the Winter Games in Sochi last year, and then proclaimed it was time to take on baseball.
Despite going undrafted, the 5-foot-9 former Christopher Columbus High School star was signed by the Chicago White Sox and quickly climbed the minor league ladder. On July 22, he was promoted to the Class-A advanced Winston Salem Dash where he’s been on a recent tear.
Alvarez is their everyday shortstop and over the last four games, he’s 7-15 with two home runs and six RBIs.
"The end goal is to be a Major League Baseball player," Alvarez said. "And be a top Major League Baseball player."
Maybe the most impressive part of Eddy's journey is that when he first had to choose between baseball and speed skating, he chose the sport where you don't get paid.
"More rational people say 'hey, is Eddy crazy?'" explained Eddy’s father, Walter Alvarez, before the Olympics. "He could have made a lot more dollars playing ball, but he couldn't have worn the USA uniform. We not only live for money, we live for pride and country and glory and that's who he is."
When Eddy was asked if he ever wondered where he might have been now had he only concentrated on baseball, he said, "it's hard not to, but at the same time, I think it was actually a privilege to do two sports, because I didn't get burned out in either of them."
At 25 years old, Eddy has a fresh attitude and fresh legs, turning heads with his speed - he has 46 stolen bases this season - but also with his unusual batting stance.
"For some reason, I feel like I'm pulling a sword out of the sky. I guess that's comfortable for me, and it seems to work so I haven't stopped. I get made fun of all the time, but whatever, I'll roll with it," he said. "I'm just awkward, if you think about it. I'm just a weird person, everything I do is strange. I randomly dance in places, I’ll join the crew on the field, that’s just how I am."
But what Alvarez is trying to accomplish is no joke, and based on his track-record, it wouldn’t be wise to count him out.
"As a kid I set a goal and a dream to be an Olympic speed skater and a professional baseball player,” Alvarez said. "So I'm in that dream right now. I accomplished one goal, and I’m not going to stop this one until they swipe the cleats off my feet."
Alvarez said the experience of training for an Olympics better prepared him for pro baseball and dealing with the ups and downs. But recently, he’s seen far more ups than downs.