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Astros’ interest in second-rounder Alonzo Tredwell dates back to high school

Houston Astros' Alonzo Tredwell
Credit: Alonzo Tredwell

Alonzo Tredwell first drew the eyes of the Houston Astros nearly three years ago. The right-handed pitcher was a force entering his junior year of high school in 2020, but an elbow injury emerged, ending his season before it started.

After undergoing Tommy John surgery, Tredwell knew the college route was in store. He felt there was more to develop. He wanted to grow not only as a player but also as a person, taking his next step at UCLA.

“I felt there was a lot left in the tank,” Tredwell said. “I just felt where I was at maturity wise, I wanted the college experience.”

Tredwell made 25 appearances his freshman season in 2022, recording six saves. His fifth outing came March 6 in the Shriners College Classic, a heavily scouted tournament at Minute Maid Park.

Kelly Austin, who the Astros signed to an undrafted free agent contract last week, started the game against Texas, and Tredwell closed out the final three innings, striking out five Longhorns.

Already on the Astros’ radar, Tredwell furthered the host team’s interest.

“His name was circled after that event,” amateur scouting director Kris Gross said. “Alonzo was an early target for us to see heading into the spring.”

Tredwell stepped into the starting rotation this past season, where he appeared in nine games, striking out 51 batters in 45.1 innings.

“With the move into the rotation this year, he was afforded the opportunity to utilize his entire arsenal,” Gross said. “He impressed our staff with his ability to mix all four (pitches) while showing flashes of dominance. … He’s always had an innate ability to fill the zone and miss bats with his fastball.”

Standing 6-foot-8, 230 pounds, Tredwell modeled his game after major-league pitchers of similar stature. From Tyler Glasnow to Logan Gilbert to Gerrit Cole, Tredwell invested time into not only watching these pitchers compete but also talk about their style of play.

When he arrived at UCLA, Tredwell towered over his teammates and his competition. He always measured off the charts in his physical stature, so he prioritized his mental development.

“It was a lot more maturity for me as far as learning the mental game and learning how to control the running game and learning how to control different situations on the field,” Tredwell said.

As a sophomore eligible prospect, Tredwell had to land the opportunity he wanted in order to leave UCLA. Selected by the Astros in the second round, he admired the organization’s track record in pitcher development.

Tredwell turned to his family to weigh the option. He found reasons to stay at UCLA, and he found reasons to start his professional career. The 21 year old opted for a contract, signing with the Astros on July 17 for a bonus worth $1.5 million, $200,000 more than the slot value.

“Taking a step back onto that field (at Minute Maid Park) a week ago, it was surreal,” Tredwell said. “It’s like the goal for me just realizing I want to pitch here again as soon as possible, and I want that same feeling I had in 2022 except in an Astros’ jersey this time.”

Tredwell joined fellow draftees this past week at the Astros’ spring training complex in West Palm Beach, Florida. Following a season-ending back and rib injuries two months into this past season, the righty is now cleared to pitch, progressing in a throwing program to ramp himself up for game action.

“I feel healthy. I feel rested,” Tredwell said. “Whatever the team wants me to do, I’m ready for it. Just waiting to see where they put me, so I’m looking forward to wherever that may be.”

Tredwell is new to the analytical side of baseball. The Astros are putting technology in his hands he has never used before. But in the last week, he has already cut his teeth in another way to improve his performance. 

The Astros now have three UCLA pitchers in their system. Houston selected righty Adrian Chaidez in the 15th round of the 2021 MLB Draft, kickstarting a recent trend. 

Both Tredwell and Gross credited UCLA coach John Savage for the development plan in place, recruiting and preparing the best area talent for baseball beyond college.

“It just shows the readiness factor of when you come to UCLA,” Tredwell said. “I think scattered all throughout the minor leagues and obviously the major leagues are just a lot of Bruins and a lot of guys that know what they’re doing and know how to control the game.”

Gross joined the Astros in 2012 as a west coast crosschecker. Since then, Houston has had interest in UCLA pitchers.

“I’d expect that to continue as (UCLA) is perennially one of the best college programs in the nation,” Gross said.

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