Victor Diaz Follows Through On Another Home Run Swing
I’ve been meaning to put together a comprehensive, team-by-team post about winter league baseball in the Dominican Republic since play began five weeks ago. With the regular season schedule more than halfway complete, that post still isn’t ready but I have to comment on something I’ve noticed that’s largely slipped under the radar.
In 2006-2007, the league ERA was 3.56. Last season, it dropped to 3.33. This winter -through games of November 22- the league earned run average is an astounding 5.40!!! As a former big league hurler from the DR used to exclaim, whatdehellwhatdefuck?!?!?!
As you might expect, home runs are up and former major league Victor Diaz (of the defending champion Aguilas Cibaenas) is leading the charge. Diaz rapped 12 longballs in 280 at-bats for the 2005 Mets, when teammate Pedro Martinez let reporters know his nickname was “Little Manny” in the D.R. Unfortunately, high strikeout totals, indifferent defense and un-Mannyesque lack of plate discipline conspired to keep Diaz in the minors for all but 43 games the last three seasons. He hasn’t seen big league action since blasting 9 homers in just 104 at bats for the Rangers in 2007. He pounded out 25 dingers with 107 RBI for two clubs in the Pacific Coast League this summer.
The soon-to-be 27-year-old Diaz may be hitting himself back into the Show, however. So far this winter, he’s put up a .346/.417/.757 line, good for a 1.174 OPS backed by 11 home runs and 32 RBI in just 28 games! Then again, he is striking out once every 2.8 at bats. When he makes contact, Diaz is batting .536!
Right behind Diaz in the scoreboard power stats is teammate Mendy Lopez, with 9 home runs and 30 RBI. With a good week, or a great game for that matter, Lopez can become the circuit’s career home run champion.
Jake Fox is batting .413 playing most of the time, while the Nationals Anderson Hernandez is at .398 with a league-leading six triples among his number one hit total. About the only pitcher really having an outstanding campaign is Jorge Sosa, who’s 5-0 with a 1.50 ERA. Don’t get too excited, his 12 strikeouts in 30 innings pitched are on the underwhelming side.
I’ll be back with more after the American Thanksgiving holiday, but check out the Dominican League if you get an opportunity. It’s shaping up to be an exciting season for evrybody but pitchers, and things are sure to heat up as more major leaguers join the action in December.