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Saturday, November 20, 2021

Alan Zinter became first-rounder and made the majors - in his 14th season; Has since returned as coach

Once a first-round pick, Alan Zinter's prospects had fallen by 2002. He'd spent more than a decade in the pros, but hadn't seen the majors.

But then, in June 2002, in the middle of his 14th professional season, Zinter made it. The Astros had called him up. He was a major leaguer.

''Don't feel sorry for me,'' Zinter told The New York Times then, days after he arrived. ''I've played baseball for 14 years. I've made a living out of it. I don't feel bad about what has happened."

Zinter went on to see the majors in 39 games that year and 28 more with the Diamondbacks in 2004. He has since gone on to extend his living in baseball, as a major league hitting coach.

Zinter's career in baseball began in 1989, taken by the Mets 24th overall out of the University of Arizona. He was credited at least once by his middle name, Mike Zinter.

The Mets selected Zinter as he won All-American honors at catcher and hit 18 home runs to tie a school record. 

"It's a relief to get this over with," Zinter told his hometown El Paso Times after he and the Mets came to an agreement. "I'm just anxious to play baseball again."

Zinter then played that year between short-season Pittsfield and single-A St. Lucie. And then he continued to play.

He saw St. Lucie again in 1990, then AA Williamsport in 1991 and AA Binghamton in 1992 and 1993. After struggling in 1991 and 1992, Zinter spoke with The Binghamton Press and Sun-Bulletin in June 1993 about his troubles and his efforts to get out of them.

"The way I approached the game changed," Zinter told The Press and Sun-Bulletin. "I was trying to be the best too fast. I was so focused on having the perfect swing."

Zinter then continued on. He moved to the Tigers system and AAA Toledo for 1994, then the Red Sox and AAA Pawtucket for 1996. He then continued to play at the AAA level each year into 2002, the only exception being 1999, when he detoured to Japan and played 61 games there with Seibu.

Then came 2002 and Zinter's arrival with the Astros. In his 39 games there, he hit .136, with two home runs. He then returned for 28 more games with the Diamondbacks in 2004. He hit .206, with one home run.

Zinter played three more seasons in the minors, including his final campaign in 2007, with independent Somerset.

He then turned to coaching. He served as hitting coach at rookie Missoula in 2008, then high-A Visalia in 2009. He became the Indians' minor league hitting coordinator in 2012. Then, in 2015, he returned to the majors as assistant hitting coach with the Astros.

He served 2016 and 2017 as hitting coach with the Padres, then joined the Reds as hitting coach for 2020 and 2021.

1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:3,786
Made the Majors:1,278-33.8%-X
Never Made Majors:2,508-66.2%
5+ Seasons in the Majors:526
10+ Seasons in the Minors:314-X

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