Former Husker Altavilla to bring speed and swag to Sioux Falls
Canaries utility infielder Angelo Altavilla. Courtesy Omaha World-Herald
The Sioux Falls Canaries have already packed their 2021 roster with plenty of power, from both veteran and young sluggers -- big boppers from the American Association's highest-scoring offense in a run to the 2020 Finals, plus a couple towering additions.
But like the Cleveland Indians in the movie "Major League," a successful team needs more than a few Pedro Cerranos. It needs a Willie Mays Hayes, who can do the little things to drive in runs, get on base, then flash some speed -- and a little swagger -- on the base paths. A guy who can get under the skin of the opposition with his hustle and flare.
Enter Angelo Altavilla, a 24-year-old burner who in his senior season of 2019 led the University of Nebraska in RBI, stolen bases, sacrifice flies, and walks, while ranking second on an NCAA Tournament team in runs and hits.
Husker fans loved watching Altavilla whirl around Haymarket Park for four years, and Birds manager Mike Meyer expects Altavilla to bring some juice to The Birdcage.
"Angelo Altavilla is a gamer," Meyer said. "He is a high on-base guy and a switch hitter who can really run, and I expect him to swipe 15-20 bags for us this year. This will allow us to hit him anywhere in our lineup. He will bring a lot of swag and energy to our club, no doubt."
Altavilla can flash the glove, as well. As a three-position infielder with "tremendous positional flexibility," he led the Huskers with 117 defensive assists while splitting time between third base and shortstop in that senior year of 2019, when he came up clutch in the biggest games, earning All-Big Ten Tournament Team honors and helping Nebraska to a third NCAA Regional berth in his four years.
Before his time with the Big Red, Altavilla as a high school senior was both a finalist for Minnesota's "Mr. Baseball" accolade and winner of the state's Herb Brooks Award, given to a hockey player for his skill, effort, leadership, passion and character. He earned it as a defenseman for Lakeville's 2015 state championship team.
"I expect to bring everything from my days as a Husker to the Canaries --- competing and working hard every single day and playing with that chip-on-your-shoulder mentality," Altavilla said.
After going undrafted in the spring of 2019, Altavilla signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks and played in 39 rookie league games. And like many professional players in 2020, he was stranded without a team while no affiliated minor league ball was played and independent league rosters were clogged partly with affiliated minor leaguers.
That Canaries were not one of those teams, yet led the American Association in scoring (by far) during their run to the 2020 Finals. Altavilla will join a 2021 lineup that returns All-Star centerfielder and Sioux Falls native Logan Landon, dangerous designated hitter Jabari Henry, and clubhouse leader Mike Hart. The Birds also added proven minor league power hitters Troy Alexander and Nathan Etheridge, along with Zane Gurwitz, who will join Altavilla in the infield.
"I'm excited to get to Sioux Falls and start playing baseball again," Altavilla said. "I signed with the Canaries because I felt like this was the best place for me to grow as a player. I look forward to getting an opportunity to display my skills and help the Canaries win a championship!"
To read more about the team's 2021 preseason signings, click here.
The season opens on May 18 against Winnipeg in the first of 56 games in The Birdcage. To learn more about our incredible packages for season tickets, group outings, corporate suites, home run decks, and promotional night sponsorships, call our box office at (605) 336-6060.