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Alabama State’s Flores Wins MVP At Inaugural HBCU Swingman Classic

 Leif Skodnick  |    Jul 14th, 2023 7:26am EDT

Randy Flores of Alabama State University poses after receiving the MVP award following the HBCU Swingman Classic at T-Mobile Park on July 07, 2023 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network

The inaugural HBCU Swingman Classic, hosted by Ken Griffey Jr. and Major League Baseball-Major League Players Association Youth Development Foundation was held Friday, July 7 at T-Mobile Park in Seattle prior to the 93rd Major League Baseball All Star Game, and featured student-athletes from 17 historically Black colleges and universities. 

Their schools play NCAA Division I baseball in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and Southwestern Athletic Conference. The American League won the first-ever HBCU Swingman Classic over the National League 4-3 last Friday night in Seattle. 

Brooklyn, N.Y. native Randy Flores, a junior shortstop from Alabama State University, won the Swingman Classic MVP Award after he hit an eighth-inning double, stole third, and then scored the winning run on a wild pitch.

“It meant everything for me, I am one of the few players from up north in most of the conference and it was good to have a platform to show that there are good baseball players that come from NYC,” Flores told World Baseball Network via text message. “It was nice to receive recognition on the season I had, which is something I have been looking for, and there was no other better event to participate in. Ken Griffey did a great job on giving us an experience of what it feels like to be a Major League Ball player. Something I will cherish forever.” 

Former Major League players were in the dugout with the student-athletes during the game including Hall of Famer Andre Dawson, who played for Florida A&M, as well as Marquis Grissom, Vince Coleman, and Rickie Weeks Jr., who won the Golden Spikes Award playing at Southern University. 

During the bottom of the eighth inning with one out and the score tied up at three, Flores  roped a double down the right field line off the glove of Mississippi Valley State University first baseman Victor Figuerora to get into scoring position. A few moments later, Flores stole third base to leave just 90 feet for the lead run. 

“Emotions were high knowing we was going be playing in front of 15,000 fans and being on national television, but his wise words helped live and enjoy the moment and not add any extra pressure to the situation,” Flores said when asked his manager, Jerry Manuel, mentoring the American League last friday night in the dugout. 

Flores would score the potential winning run with a wild pitch, sliding head first into home plate to secure the American League victory. 

World Baseball Network as well as asked Flores what it was like to share with his teammates from Alabama State University such as Omar Melendez, Ian Matos, Corey King, Luis Rodriguez, Ali LaPread, and Ricardo Rivera even on the opposition side from last friday. 

“Definitely great to share the field one last time with most of my teammates, some guys are seniors and won’t be returning next year so to be able to be on the same field with them on the biggest stage was great as I know how hard each of us worked to get this opportunity, Flores said of playing in the Swingman Classic with six of his Alabama State teammates. 

During the 2023 regular season, Flores batted .336 in 59 games in 296 plate appearances recording 82 hits, 11 doubles, three triples, 10 home runs, 54 RBI, swiping 38 stolen bases along with being caught eight times, and 40 walks. 

Flores played his first two collegiate athletic seasons of eligibility at Franklin Pierce University. Last season, he played in 41 games batting .346 with a 1.012 OPS through 185 plate appearances recording 55 hits, 13 doubles, two triples, seven home runs, 42 RBI, swiping 20 stolen bases with just being caught four times, and 22 walks. 

In his freshman season, Flores hit .344 playing in 32 games with 158 plate appearances recording 43 hits, 14 doubles, two triples, four home runs, 32 RBI, 18 stolen bases with not getting caught once, and walking 26 times. 

Flores also had his eligibility extended because of the COVID-19 Pandemic during his slated freshman season. 

Alabama State University finished third in the country at the end of the 2023 season from the Black College Nines’ Top 10 Poll with a record of 41-17, and was first in the Southwestern Athletic Conference at 26-4 before losing to Florida A&M University twice in the SWAC conference tournament. Hornets’ head coach Jose Vazquez also took home the 2023 Black College Nines Coach of the Year Award. 

Black College Nines 2023 Elite First Team Players In Swingman Classic
Ty Hill – Jackson State University 
Trey Paige – Delaware State University 
Cameron Bufford – Grambling State University 
Brantley Cutler – University of Maryland Eastern Shore 
Trevor Hatton – Grambling State University 
Nolan Santos – Bethune Cookman University 
Omar Melendez – Alabama State University 
Hylan Hall – Bethune Cookman University 
Joan Gonzalez – Bethune Cookman University 

Black College Nines 2023 Elite Second Team Players In Swingman Classic
Keylon Mack – Grambling University 
Nicholas Wilson – Southern University 
Tommy Easley – Alabama A&M University 
Alexander Olivo – Texas Southern University 
Corey King – Alabama State University 
Ty Hanchey – Florida A&M University 
Ian Matos – Alabama State University 
Hunter Viets – Florida A&M University 
Xavier Machem – North Carolina A&T University

Black College Nines’ 2023 Award Winners In Swingman Classic
Player of the Year – Trevor Hatton (Grambling State University)                                              
Pitcher of the Year – Omar Melendez (Alabama State University)

Inaugural HBCU Swingman Classic Managers
Jerry Manuel – American League
Bo Porter – National League 

1st Annual HBCU Swingman Classic Players By School
Alabama A&M University-
Sr. MIF Tommy Easley (NL)                                                                           Alabama State University – Sr. 1B Ali LaPread (NL)., Sr. OF Ian Matos (AL), Fr. LHP Omar Melendez (AL), C Jamal George (NL), So. DH/UTL Corey King (AL), Jr. MIF Randy Flores (AL), Jr. LHP Ricardo Rivera (NL), and So. RHP Luis Rodriguez (NL)                                                                                                                     Alcorn State University – Fr. LHP Kewan Braziel (NL),
University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff – Jr. OF Noble Lawrence (AL)
Bethune Cookman University – Jr. OF Hylan Hall (AL), So. C Irvin Escobar (AL), Sr. RHP Joan Gonzalez (NL) and Jr. RHP Nolan Santos (NL)
Coppin State University – R-Jr. C Mike Dorcean (AL) and R-Jr. RHP Rashad Ruff (AL)
Delaware State University – Jr. DH/UTL Trey Paige (NL)
Florida A&M University – R-Jr. MIF Jalen Niles (AL), Sr. C Ty Hanchey (NL), and Jr. RHP Hunter Viets (NL)
Grambling State University – R-Sr. 1B Keylon Mack (AL), R-Fr. MIF Kyle Walker (AL), R-So. MIF Keanu-Jacobs Guishard (NL), R-Jr. 3B Cameron Bufford (NL), R-So. OF Trevor Hatton (NL), Gr. RHP Lorenzo Peterson (AL), and R-Sr. RHP Phillip Bryant (NL)
Jackson State University – Gr. 3B Ty Hill (AL), Sr. RHP Jesse Caver, So. RHP Erick Gonzalez (AL), and Sr. OF Jatavis Melton (NL)
University of Maryland Eastern Shore – Gr. DH/UTL Brantley Cutler (NL)
Mississippi Valley State University – Fr. 1B Victor Figueroa (NL)
Norfolk State University – Jr. P Manny Jackson (AL)
North Carolina A&T University – Jr. OF Camden Jackson (NL) and So. RHP Xavier Machem (AL)               Prairie View A&M University – Jr. RHP Michael Dews (AL)                                                                      Southern University – Jr. OF Kyle Radcliffe (AL), Jr. RHP Nicholas Wilson (AL), Sr. OF Jaylen Armstrong (NL), and R-Jr. C Gustavo Sanchez (NL)
Texas Southern University – Jr. MIF CJ Castillo (NL) and Jr. 1B Alexander Olivo (NL)