Golden Lions’ Alcantar picked by Rays in 36th round

A day after Tampa Bay drafted Woodlawn alumnus Bradley Wallace in the 10th round of the 2014 Major League Baseball Draft, the Rays picked another player with local ties in the 36th round.

Arkansas-Pine Bluff shortstop Isias Alcantar, who just completed his final season with the Golden Lions, became the 1087th player drafted when the Rays picked him on Saturday.

“I think I was more excited than he was,” Lions head coach Carlos James said. “You know Alcantar is a real mild-mannered kid.

“He’s probably the best player to ever play at UAPB.”

Alcantar, who is listed at 6 feet, 215 pounds, is projected as a catcher at the pro level, although, James said he has the ability to play anywhere on the infield.

“Yeah, he projects as a catcher but he could play some third base,” James said. “Really he could play second base, too. Bottom line, though, they drafted him for his bat, because that kid can hit.

“But defensively, with his body type, catcher seems like his most likely position. He has caught before, so it won’t be completely new for him.”

Alcantar, who was selected five spots ahead of Arkansas outfielder Tyler Spoon, played in 50 games (48 starts) this past season. He finished with a .328 batting average, a .419 on-base percentage and a .478 slugging percentage. Alcantar led UAPB with six home runs and 43 RBIs. The Alameda, Calif.-native drew 19 walks and was hit by a pitch 12 times, while only striking out in 14 of his 180 at-bats.

“He’s part of the group of guys who helped take this program to the next level,” James said. “… This is now a championship-caliber program. People around the country now know who UAPB is.

“He’s part of the group of guys, who put this program on the radar, nationally.”

Alcantar was named the Southwestern Athletic Conference Player of the Year as a junior, and this season he helped UAPB win its first Western Division title.

“I think he’s relieved,” James said. “This was one of his goals. One of his goals was to help us win our first SWAC Championship. We didn’t quite do that, but he helped turn the program around. His personal goal was to get drafted. It’s great to see someone work hard for something and finally get it.

“I think it will probably sink in once he gets there and figures out he belongs.”