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Alan Espinal

Catcher Alan Espinal proudly leads at Vanderbilt

Puerto Rican Alan Espinal ready for NCAA Regional

It’s a humble journey when you play sports at the collegiate level. Freshmen begin a new chapter where they have to learn and compete at their respective positions. Seniors and graduate students lead the new class of athletes and nurture them into collegiate ballplayers.

Catcher Alan Espinal has completed both routes as a college baseball player. As one of the main leaders of Vanderbilt’s baseball program, Espinal will look to anchor the Commodores to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb.

“When you have an older guy that’s been in this program for a long time it’s refreshing to be put into a leadership position,” Espinal said. “The way I look at it is that anybody could be a leader in this team. No matter the age. It just goes on how you play the game and how much you love this (baseball).”

High Vandy expectations

Vanderbilt is one of the most prestigious baseball programs in the Southeastern Conference and Division 1 baseball. The Commodores are appearing in their 18th consecutive NCAA Tournament, the longest active streak in Division 1 baseball.

Head coach Tim Corbin has managed Vanderbilt’s baseball program for 21 years. Corbin has led them to five College World Series appearances, four trips to the championship game, and two national titles.

In addition, he’s coached All-Americans and notable players who reached the majors like 2012 American League Cy Young winner David Price, three-time All-Star Sonny Gray, and 2021 World Series champion Dansby Swanson.

Corbin prides his program with hustle and hard work. Espinal has shown he has one of the best attitudes a coach can want. 


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“The baseball gods reward people who love the team and present gratitude like he does,” Corbin said of Espinal. “I mean his work ethic is phenomenal and he’s just a great teammate.”

Alan Espinal spent the majority of his time on a baseball field in Puerto Rico. Growing up, Alan watched his father, Rafael Espinal, and his older brother, Dilan Espinal, play baseball every time he had the chance.

Alan Espinal left island early

At 15, Alan Espinal migrated to the United States and landed in Viera, Fla., where he enrolled as a sophomore at Viera High School. It was a new beginning with new opportunities, but Espinal was up for the challenge. 

Espinal was ranked the No. 8 catcher in the state of Florida and rated the 61st overall prospect. Perfect Game ranked Espinal as the 28th best catcher in the country. The Canóvanas, Puerto Rico, native has expressed his gratitude to play under the lights at Charles Hawkins Field. He never took it for granted.

“He’s grateful for where he is,” Corbin said of Espinal. “Because of his gratefulness he spends every moment at the facility. He’s been a team player ever since he’s stepped on campus, and he’s had to wait his turn. But now he’s getting his opportunity and he’s earned every second of it.”

Patience was key for the young Boricua. Espinal played 34 games behind senior catcher Jack Bulger in 2023. Now, given the opportunity, Espinal started 57 games this year for the Commodores.

Exceptional defense

Defensively, Espinal carries a 0.998 fielding percentage with 467 putouts, 23 assists, and only one error. Moreover, he’s thrown out six runners trying to take an extra base off of him.

Espinal placed a lot of attention on his offensive approach during the offseason. The 6-foot slugger has improved in every hitting category. He is batting .285 with 14 doubles, 12 home runs, 47 RBIs, and 32 walks this year.

“I’m focusing on doing my job and staying short to the ball,” he said. “That’s how I know I struggled last season. I was a little bit wide, a little bit big. This offseason I just focused on bat to ball skills, and be confident in my stuff. I worked hard for this and we all have.”

Vanderbilt upset the first-seeded Tennessee Volunteers 13-4 in their second game of the SEC tournament. Espinal contributed in a big way finishing 2-for-5 with two home runs and five RBIs. 

Unfortunately for Vanderbilt, the eventual champion Tennessee had the last laugh in the semifinals. 

The NCAA announced the host cities for the regional series this past Monday. Vanderbilt landed the second seed in the Clemson Regional. The other three teams joining them are No. 4 High Point, No. 3 Coastal Carolina and No. 1 Clemson.

Espinal is playing in his final postseason sporting the Commodores uniform. The 214-pound, lean backstop has made sure to enjoy every bittersweet moment on and off the field with his baseball family.

“Just keep having fun,” Espinal said of what he looks forward to in his last season with Vanderbilt. “Just keep winning baseball games and make bonds with my brothers.”

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