The slider: a pitch feared in Major League Baseball for its uncanny ability to freeze batters who can’t tell if it is a fastball or a curve. Pittsburgh Pirate Hall of Famer Willie Stargell once compared hitting a slider to “trying to drink coffee with a fork.”
Imagine seeing the lethal pitch at the high school level.
Sliders are what opponents of Glynn Academy have been facing – unsuccessfully – since last season. The slider is the specialty of Terrors senior pitcher Alex Colon.
“I want the batter to see the same arm slot and mechanics as the fast ball,” he said of his best pitch.
According to Dickson’s Baseball Dictionary, a slider is a breaking pitch that tails down in the strike zone. It is thrown faster than a curve ball but slower than a fastball. When thrown by a right-handed pitcher, like Colon, the slider breaks down and away from a right-handed batter and down and in on a lefty.
“Alex always had a lot of ability and tremendous stuff on the mound,” said Glynn Academy head baseball coach Greg Roberts. “Over the last year he has really learned the craft of pitching. He has learned how to control his body and command different pitches effectively.”
Colon is a finesse pitcher who is able to throw hard with a lot of movement on his pitches. These abilities make Colon a formidable pitcher, but hard work has also developed him into a solid hitter and infielder. Next year the 6’3”, 175-pound righty will take his talents to Augusta University, where he will throw sliders for Jaguars coach Chris Howell while majoring in computer science. While he had looks and offers from other schools, Augusta University was just the right fit.
“I love the older style of the campus as well as the field,” Colon said. “From the moment coach Howell and I met, I felt like we really connected. He cares about me and the goals I am striving for.”
Colon signed his National Letter of Intent to play at Augusta University last November during the NCAA’s early signing period.
The son of Alberto and Hope Colon, Alex has a 3.5 GPA at Glynn Academy and was an ambassador to the Glynn County Sports Hall of Fame. Anyone who has been to a Terrors baseball game at Edo Miller Park in Brunswick has seen his parents at every game.
“My mom tends to slack off some games, but I still love you mom,” he said. “My dad always pushes me to be the best me I can be, whether it’s on the field or off.”
Like most boys, Colon grew up playing many different sports: soccer, football, basketball, and baseball. But above all, baseball has been his key to success.
“I’ve been playing baseball ever since I could remember,” he said.
His baseball career started when a well-known travel ball team called the Nationals asked his father if Colon would like to play with them in a tournament, a huge opportunity for any up and coming prospect. It was there that coach Sidney Bowdoin taught the young Colon much more than just baseball.
“From day one he taught me work ethic, hard work, and how to love and respect the game,” Colon said.
Playing with seasoned athletes also pushed the young Colon to get better. In a close district championship game, he hit a grand slam and followed it with a two-run homerun. He also had the opportunity to play in a tournament in Cooperstown, New York, home of the Baseball Hall of Fame. By the time he was playing in middle school, he was good enough to be one of the few who made the team as seventh-graders. In high school he gave up other sports and focused solely on baseball.
“I am mainly a pitcher but can also play anywhere on the infield a coach needs me,” Colon said.
He made the Terrors varsity team his freshmen year but got his big chance at the beginning of last season when Roberts was looking for a third starting pitcher to go along with Chad Wallen and Will Bowdoin. Colon became a steady presence on the mound well into the playoffs.
As a junior in his first year in the starting pitching rotation, Colon went undefeated and was named All-Region Pitcher of the Year. His most memorable game came last season at the start of the state playoffs. Colon had never been to the playoffs, and not only did he play, but he pitched the first game and ended up getting the win.
Colon’s favorite part of the game is connecting with his Terror teammates like Will Bowdoin, who he sees as one of the hardest working players on the team.
“He is an outstanding athlete and works extremely hard,” Colon said. “My goal is always to work as hard or harder than him. This is not a simple task.”
As a senior, Colon began developing new skills in team leadership.
“If I had to pick one player that I could mold and bring back each year to show other players how to do it right, it would be Alex,” Roberts said. “Alex has been one of the hardest working players I’ve ever coached. He is 100 percent all the time. He never takes reps off and is always looking to gain an advantage.”
By Rob Asbell
Photography by Michael Brinson
The Slider Specialist