SURPRISE, Ariz. -- CJ Alexander expected to spend the offseason recharging from the long 2023 season.
But as the Royals infield prospect was relaxing on his couch at home, he got a call asking if he wanted to be an in-season addition -- replacing teammate Nick Loftin -- on the the Surprise Saguaros' Arizona Fall League roster.
Given the track record the Fall League has with producing future MLB talent, it was an easy decision for Alexander. The 27-year-old is determined to make his Major League debut in 2024 after spending four seasons in the Minor Leagues.
“[I thought] it might be tough at first, but it’s been a good adjustment,” Alexander said after the Saguaros’ 11-7 win over the Javelinas on Monday. “It’s been a good adjustment. I have some really good coaches and teammates that made it really comfortable.”
Playing in his third AFL game, the 2018 20th-round pick went 2-for-5 with three RBIs. Alexander got his first hit of the shortened season on a line drive to right field in the second inning.
Feeding off that momentum, Alexander stepped up to bat in the third with the Saguaros trailing by one run. He ripped the first pitch from Peoria starter Braden Nett (Padres) to center for a bases-clearing triple. It capped off a five-run rally by the home team.
“I trusted myself,” Alexander said. “Just get out there and go. I saw a fastball there in the zone and capitalized off it. It was nice to see it go in the gap and not right at somebody.”
The Royals see potential in Alexander. He even got an endorsement from legendary third baseman George Brett during a Spring Training broadcast.
There have been glimpses of Alexander’s promising swing. He had a career season in 2022, the same year he was dealt from the Braves to the Royals, posting a .264 average with 25 home runs and 87 RBIs.
In his Triple-A debut in 2023, his average dropped to .231. But even after having multiple stints on the injured list, he was still able to hit 17 homers.
Strikeouts have haunted Alexander in his career. He had back-to-back 100-strikeout seasons in 2021 and 2022 and 97 in 2023.
“It’s trusting my hitting guys,” Alexander said. “Sticking with one thing. I don’t plan on changing a lot approach-wise. I want to be better with my approach and then lock in my swing mechanics from there.”
The time in Arizona is also something of a second-chance opportunity for Alexander. When he was with the Braves in 2019, he was supposed to play in the AFL. But after breaking his thumb while trying to make a catch over a railing, those plans were scrapped.
Now a more mature Alexander has a chance to prove he is worthy of a much-desired MLB callup.
“I’m still working on my strikeout rate and the batting average,” he said. “And do all this and get a good foundation for the offseason to work on and have a good Spring Training.”