After emotional trade, Binelas excited to impact Red Sox

March 6th, 2022

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Shocked. Sad. Confused.

That was how Alex Binelas felt the night of Dec. 1, when he was dealt to the Red Sox and suddenly uprooted from his hometown Brewers, who had made all his dreams come true by making him a third-round selection in the 2021 Draft only about three months prior.

Excited. Driven. Comfortable.

Those are some of the feelings the 21-year-old Binelas expressed on Sunday from Red Sox’ Minor League camp, as he spoke with enthusiasm about his new chapter.

A big left-handed hitter with power, Binelas is ranked No. 16 in Boston's farm system by MLB Pipeline. His quest is to prove to the Red Sox how smart they were to acquire him along with speedy prospect David Hamilton and old friend Jackie Bradley Jr. in a deal that sent Hunter Renfroe to Milwaukee.

“There were a lot of emotions,” said Binelas. “I was sitting on the couch with my dad at 10:30 at night, and I got the call saying I’m being traded to the Boston Red Sox. The emotions at first, I was sad, and I was just like, ‘What’s going on?' I was kind of confused, and it was 30 minutes before the lockout [was announced], too.

“It was just very confusing. I didn’t expect it at all. Once I stepped back and looked at the bigger picture, Boston really wanted me. Being part of a trade like that, to come to an organization like this, it feels good to be with someone who really wants me. Just really excited.”

With some time to think it over, Binelas now sees the advantages of not playing baseball so close to home. These are crucial development years for Binelas that will demand tunnel vision. He knows that isn’t always easy with family and friends everywhere.

“The High-A team with the Brewers was in Appleton, Wis., which is an hour and a half from my house," Binelas said, "so I would have had a lot of family and friends there -- which would have been cool, but it also could be a distraction. It’s a blessing in disguise."

The one thing that jumps out after conversing with Binelas is his relentless drive to do whatever it takes to get to the Major Leagues. Some of that can be traced to lessons that were instilled in him by his coach at Louisville, Dan McDonnell.

“I take every day to get one percent better. My head coach at Louisville, Coach Mac, he kind of fried that into my brain,” said Binelas. “It’s what he always preached. Get one percent better every day, perfect your craft.”

A third baseman who could also see some time at first, Binelas wants to be athletic enough that the Red Sox can put him a corner outfield slot if necessary. Don't get him wrong: He sees himself as a third baseman, but he added, "I just want to get my bat in the lineup, whatever position it takes.”

For sure, Binelas has a bat that can be a separator. You just need to be within ear-shot of one of his rounds of batting practice to know that.

“He’s strong,” said Red Sox director of player development Brian Abraham. “We’ve seen that in a short amount of time, and just seeing him in person, he hits it very hard.”

That said, Binelas wants to shed the label of being an “offense-first” player.

“You have to perform at every aspect of the game when you are a pro athlete,” said Binelas. “I feel like the bat is a little ahead of the defense right now, so I’m really doing a lot of defensive work right now. I’m really locking in when we do our early work defense here, our defensive rounds here on the field, really locking in on defense.”

And Binelas is just as locked in when he isn’t between the lines: “Every aspect of the game -- and that includes the weight room, nutrition, sleep -- all of that is very important to me," he said.

Though Binelas has never set foot in Fenway Park, the daily drive into the Spring Training facility gives him a glimpse of that towering replica Green Monster at JetBlue Park. When Binelas sees that towering green fixture, it is easy for him to day dream about what could be some day.

“When I’m swinging well, I drive the ball to all fields,” he said. “So using that big wall for a lot of doubles and just kind of banging it off that wall -- and I feel with my power, I’ll even be able to get balls over that wall. So I feel like it’s going to play really well in my favor.”

Until Binelas actually gets to Fenway Park, Coach Mac’s words of wisdom will keep ringing in his ears.

“Coach Mac at Louisville always preached, ‘Control what you can control.' What I can control is coming to the field every day no matter what field it is,” said Binelas. “It doesn’t matter if it is Low-A, High-A, Double-A, Triple-A or up in Boston, I’m going to come every day prepared.

“I’m going to come in every day locked in and never take an at-bat off. I’m going to lock in on every pitch on offense and defense and get better every day, and if I can control those variables -- how my attitude is, how my mindset is, how I go about my business -- the rest is just going to take care of itself.”