Minnesota Twins first base prospect Victor Heredia is lighting up the Dominican Summer League
The Minnesota Twins have a promising player in the pipeline making big waves in the Dominican Summer League. Victor Heredia is among the league leaders in several offensive categories in his second season in the DSL. Having just turned 18 in June, he should be a good fit with the Gulf Coast League Twins to start 2019.
Starting with the numbers
Heredia has a slash line of .366/.404/.611 with an OPS of 1.115 in 36 games. His .404 slugging percentage, 36 runs batted in, and 80 total bases are all league bests. On top of that, his .366 BA and 1.115 OPS rank him second and third in the league, respectively. He is also among the league leaders with four triples, five home runs, and 34 runs scored. While he has drawn only eight walks, his 21 strikeouts in 131 at-bats are impressive.
Defensively, Heredia seems to be more than holding his own at first base with a .988 fielding percentage. Lacking published DSL fielding stat rankings, I bounced around and randomly compared his numbers with a dozen opposing first basemen in the DSL. Heredia has the highest percentage of the players I looked at. This is especially noteworthy given that this is his first season playing first base.
The young Venezuelan broke into professional baseball as a catcher last season with a .257 /.356 /.351 slash and .708 OPS, with one home run and nine runs batted in during 74 at-bats. Eight passed balls were offset by a 1.000 fielding percentage, and he threw out 17 of 30 attempted base stealers.
The road to a professional contract
The 6′ 2″ 230 pound native of Acarigua, Venezuela joined the Minnesota Twins organization on July 4th, 2016, with a signing bonus of $180,000. He was one of four international signing during that signing period highlighted by $495,000 contract to Wander Valdez.
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Heredia’s occupational path started at the tender age of thirteen when he was accepted to train at the Maracay, Aragua, Venezuela based Academia Ramón Hernández. He has had two summers of intensive training under the tutelage of former professional players. Coaches include big league names we remember well, like Carlos Guillen, Ramon Hernandez, Ronny Cedeno and Freddy Garcia . They take the game and the Venezuelan youth seriously.
"Victor Heredia has been a very talented young player in the professional baseball. It´s no secret, he enjoys, he likes what he does. “never mind sacrificing if you´re looking for success”. #Rhsports"
MLB International Showcases are held in the winter and spring to allow teams to evaluate talent during workouts and games prior to the international signing period. The young players have a lot riding on their individual performances with and against some of the top hopefuls in their age group.
Heredia was a standout at the major showcase held in the Dominican Republic mid-February of 2016. MLB.com included him as one of “10 to watch from MLB’s international showcase”, writing,
"The 6-foot-2, 195-pound backstop grabbed everybody’s attention on the first day of the workout. Heredia showed off his prowess at the plate during batting practice and was able to carry it over into game action. He had three hits, including a monstrous home run to left field Wednesday."
Baseball America had this to say about Heredia in an April 2017 review of the Twins signings,
"Venezuelan catcher Victor Heredia made his mark at last year’s MLB international showcase… Still 16, Heredia is a strong, big-bodied catcher (6-foot-2, 210 pounds) who has shown the ability to hit and hit for power from the right side of the plate. Heredia is better at the plate than he is behind it, so he will have to bring along his receiving and agility to stay back there."
Heredia’s trainer was Romulo Martinez, a former minor league infielder for the Mets and the Royals and the brother of the late Carlos “Cafe” Martinez, a veteran major league corner infielder. Victor recalls,
"The day my coach Romulo Martinez called me that Minnesota had made the offer, I told him to accept, that I wanted to play baseball.”"
The Twins assigned Heredia to the DSL Twins on July 2, 2016. Brusdar Graterol, Wander Javier, Lewin Diaz, Fernando Romero. Felix Jorge. Miguel Sano and Jorge Polanco are the most notable players in the Minnesota Twins system that began their pro careers with the D-Twins.
A little Q&A
I contacted Heredia and he was kind enough to answer some questions.
Q- How is your English?
A-Hablo poco inglés me defiendo muy bien pero tengo que mejorarlo, espero estar en Florida el próximo año pero ya eso no es decisión mía es del equipo solo estaré donde el equipo quiera que esté.
A – I speak little English. I get by well, but I have to improve, I hope to be in Florida next year but that isn’t my decision. It’s the team´s decision where I´ll play.
Q- Tell me about your family? Do you miss home? Do you worry about them?
A- Sí, la extraño un poco ya que estoy en mi segunda casa ,siempre trato de hablar con mi familia para sentirme tranquilo y enfocado en lo que tengo que hacer.
A – Yes, I miss it a bit while I’m here in my second home. I always try to talk to my family. They help me to feel calm and focused on what I have to do.
Q- Do you feel good at first base? Do you miss playing catcher?
A- me siento bien en la primera base pero extraño estar atrás del home quiero volver a jugar esa posición.
A – I feel good at first base but miss being behind the home plate. I want to play that position again.
Q- Joe Mauer was a Gold Glove catcher and now he’s a Gold Glove worthy first baseman. Do you think your defensive experience as a catcher has helped you at first base?
A- Un poco pero desde que era un niño me ponían a jugar las 2 bases y no tuve problemas para defender primera base.
A – A little bit, but since I was a kid I played the second base and I had no problem defending first base.
Q- Have you been to the U.S.?
A- Sí, he visitado los Estados Unidos dos veces.
A- Yes, I’ve visited the United States twice.
Q- Are you familiar at all with Minnesota? Target Field?
A- Si, siempre sueño con jugar en el Target field.
A – Yes, I always dream of playing in Target field.
Q- Who was your favorite player(s) as you were growing up?
A- mis jugadores favoritos eran Henry Blanco, Ramon Hernandez y Miguel Cabrera ya que Henry Blanco y Ramon Hernández eran los mejores catcher definitivamente y Miguel unos de los mejores bateadores.
A- My favorite players were Henry Blanco, Ramon Hernandez and Miguel Cabrera. Henry Blanco and Ramon Hernandez were definitely the best catchers and Miguel one of the best hitters.
Q- You lead the league in batting average, RBI´s, slugging percentage, OPS, and total bases, and are among the league leaders in home runs! How do you feel about it? It must be fun.
A- Sí, es muy emocionante estar de líder en la liga, siempre trato de dar lo mejor de mí dentro y fuera del terreno.
A- Yes, it is very exciting to be a leader in the league. I always try to give my best, on and off the field.
Q- Did you make any special adjustments at the plate?
A- Sí, siempre trato de quedarme cerrado a la hora de hacer el swing y darle hacia la otra banda.
A – Yes, I always try to stay closed when taking a swing and hit it to the opposite field.
Q- The Twins academy and sports complex look very impressive. Is it as nice as it looks? Do they feed you well?
A- es muy bonito, cómodo y confortable, la comida es muy buena.
A- It is very nice and comfortable. And the food is very good.
Q- How do you like being in the D.R.?
A- Sí, me gusta un poco estar aquí.
A- Yes, I kind of like it here.
Q- How long are your days on the field? What do you do in your free time?
A- Mis días duran entre 6 a 7 horas diarias de trabajo en el campo y juego , en mis tiempos libre duermo y cuando despierto hablo con mi familia.
A- My days last between 6 to 7 hours, practicing in the field and playing in the games. In my free time, I sleep. And when I wake up talk to my family in Venezuela.
Q-Any favorite players today?
A- José Altuve y Salvador Pérez.
Q- Acadamia RH Sports. Was Ramon Hernandez a big influence? Age 13 to 15?
A- Sí, la academia A-RH fue la que me abrió las puertas y confió en mi talento. Gracias a ellos pude mejorar mis herramientas.
A- Yes, it was the RH Academy the one that opened the doors for me and trusted my talent. Thanks to them, I was able to improve my skills.
Q- Did you have a trainer at the RH Academy?
A- El que me entrenó a mí fue Rómulo Martinez, hermano del difunto Carlos café Martínez. Él siempre estuvo en las buenas y en las malas.
A- The man who trained me was Romulo Martinez, brother of the deceased Carlos “café” Martínez. He was always with me in good times and bad.
Q- Did you grow up in Acarigua? Is it a nice place to grow up?
A- Sí, crecí en mi amada Acarigua, para mí es el mejor lugar para crec
er en Venezuela, es una zona muy tranquila.
A-Yes, in my beloved Acarigua. For me, it´s the best place to grow up in Venezuela. It’s a very quiet area.
Victor Heredia is a player to watch in the Twins future. A nice kid with a good head on his shoulders. Beyond obvious natural talent, he has shown the mental determination and maturity to continually improve as he works toward his dream of playing in Target Field. I can see that dream coming true.