In his past six at-bats, Dayan Viciedo is 0-6 with six strikeouts.
After hitting .206 in April, he hit .351 in May, but then .179 in June.
One may see the back-and-forth production from the young right-handed hitter and question his reliability. But given all of the circumstances, Viciedo is giving the White Sox exactly what they expected of him.
Many times, teams let their young prospects like Viciedo go out there and “just play” to get their feet wet, but this was not one of those situations.
Kenny Williams showed a lot of faith in the kid by making room for him with the Carlos Quentin trade. He then told Dayan he’d be playing left field, making that his third new position in three seasons. Plus, a lot of fans have viewed “Tank” as the organization’s top hitting prospect, and he’s constantly had to work on and listen to criticisms about his plate discipline.
Simply put, a lot was put on the plate of Viciedo heading into the 2012 season.
People might say, “He’s hitting seventh, so how does that constitute as pressure?” Well, Dayan’s situation is not your typical seven-hole scenario.
The plate discipline idea is something most prospects are babied with in the minors, with the organization calling those guys up once they feel the player has grasped it well enough. With Viciedo, the Sox are telling him to grasp it on the fly. That’s showing a lot of faith in a young player.
Learning to work the count and take more pitches is like trying to break any other bad habit in baseball. When you do something one way for so long, it becomes muscle memory. Take a look around baseball at your Cuban players. How many of them really work the count? As Hawk Harrelson has said at times when assessing Dayan and Alexei Ramirez, “you don’t walk your way out of Cuba.”
In fact, Dayan has even improved in that department of late, walking almost twice as much in June (seven times) as he did in April and May combined (four times). He’s never going to be Adam Dunn at the plate in terms of patience. Dayan is what he is: an aggressive, high-strikeout, low OBP guy with a TON of power.
But the fact that he’s making these types of strides all while learning a new position is encouraging to me.
Speaking of the new position, Viciedo hasn’t been too shabby out there in left field either. Actually, outside of misplaying one bounce off the side wall against Milwaukee a few series ago, he’s been extremely solid. His arm is an asset, as teams are afraid to run on him. And he’s done many things well that you’d expect a first year left fielder to struggle with (hitting cut-off men, communication with the center fielder, going back on balls etc.).
Even with all the things added to Dayan’s “to-do list” for this year, it seems as if he’s carried himself better than most MLB veterans. He’s never backed down from anything Kenny or Robin have given him, always saying he’ll do what’s best for the team.
Plus, despite the recent struggles, he’s never appeared to be down on himself and has never let his slumps at the plate effect his defense.
So, while his offensive production has bounced around a lot even compared to most feast-or-famine Latin players, the White Sox probably weren’t expecting more than a .252/14/37/.735 line on July 2.
With the team in first place, and expectations now raised for the season’s second half, Dayan does have a lot of responsibility despite his placement in the order. And he’s proven thus far in 2012 that he’s ready to handle it.