Twenty-two year old Red Sox prospect Jose Vinicio will be one of the first people to tell you that hard work and determination can go a very long way. In the matter of a year, we have seen the middle infielder jump from A+ ball all the way to Triple-A; this progress can be credited to his fielding, speed, and versatility of playing both shortstop and second base.
I had the chance to interview the Pawtucket Red Sox shortstop Jose Vinicio, from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. He grew up with baseball and from the very beginning, it played a huge role in his life. “Baseball is everything in our country. Everybody loves baseball. We play baseball from sun up to sun down. We love this sport. Baseball is good to all of us.”
As a young player, he often found himself looking up to players for guidance. He looked up to players like David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Vladimir Guerrero, Albert Pujols, and all the other guys who have made their dreams of baseball come true. “They made a good example for me to follow.” Now, after years of looking up towards players, he is only a small step away from being where they are or once were.
As a child in the Dominican Republic, he came from a poor family and only dreamed of becoming an MLB baseball player. He has taken the advantage of what opportunities the sport has presented him. He continues to work his way up the ranks of the Red Sox minor league system, playing the game he loves and helping his family along the way.
Vinicio, whether you know it or not, has been in the Red Sox farm system for quite some time developing into a defensive rock middle infielder with great speed. And he gives credit to his field coordinators over the years.
“The field coordinators have been terrific helping me throughout the years. They have made me the defender I am today. My running as well helps me get on base. With my small frame, I try to stay within myself. Get bunts down. Steal bases, you know, stuff that quick guys do.”
Signed as an international free agent at the age of 16, Vinicio, has “grown up to become a Red Sox.” It is who he is and who he wants to be. Over the course of seven years, he has gone through thick and thin making him versatile and determined.
For quite some time Vinicio’s routine has been waking up early to eat breakfast and then go to the field to practice and hit BP, then relax and do pregame stuff to get ready for the game, play, and then get home late. The routine has been embedded in him for years, even when he got his call-up he finds himself in generally the same pattern. Except now, after his recent call-up to Triple-A, “he takes flights” but he happily doesn’t mind as it “beats a bus ride” plus he enjoys visiting so many different cities.
However, just because there is routine, doesn’t mean that it always goes as planned. Jose’s biggest challenge has been staying healthy. He has been healthy all season long so far, however, last season and in prior years he has had to deal with small injuries.
It has been a difficult road so far, but he is feeling very good. One thing he has also been focusing on however is his weight. “I also am trying my best to gain weight cause I know that is what the team wants from me.” He goes on to say, “I think it will give me the boost I need to get the call and play every day in the Show.”
Whatever advice is given to Jose, you most certainly are going to be seeing him translating it into his performance.
“I listen to what the team tells me and I go from there. They have a good idea on what I need to do to get to the Show and I follow and work on the things they ask me to work on. I try to do better every year. I hit around .290 last year; this year I want to hit .300.”
Accomplishing a goal for Jose is just a stepping-stone from him getting closer to another. This year he was called up to Triple-A, he also was invited to participate in this year’s MLB spring training; at 22 years old it’s something you just can’t beat. He is truly cherishing every moment while working tirelessly to making it to the Big Leagues.
One of his biggest veteran mentors for Vinicio has been none other than, David Ortiz. He has been a tremendous help on and off the field. “He always tells me to work hard and stay humble. Not to let anything get to my head, things like that. I’m going to miss seeing him on the field.” Vinicio is making strides to his ultimate goal and is always learning from his peers and translating it into the type of player we see in front of us. When asked what advice he would give to a young baseball player he says:
“Work harder than everybody else. Pray to God to not get injured. God is in control. The harder you work, the more it will pay off. Play as much as you can, everywhere you can. Baseball is a game that you have to invest a lot of time into to get better.”
This advice goes a long way for young baseball players who are looking to have a career in professional baseball, and it clearly shows, as this has been the belief that has been instilled in Jose Vinicio throughout his life.
Jose loves being with the Boston Red Sox organization and can’t see himself anywhere else. “I thank Ben Crockett and my managers for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to play with the Paw Sox. I pray to be in the Show soon.” The fans and the support he receives are endless and it is something that he values. One day, and not a day that is all too far away, we will see Jose up in the MLB, hopefully as a Red Sox, and he exclaims he can’t wait to finally have the chance to “beat the Yankees (laugh).”