CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Every minor league baseball player plays the game in hopes of one day reaching the Major Leagues.
Most never achieve that goal.
But West Virginia Power second baseman Dilson Herrera got a taste of life in the Big Leagues last Sunday as member of the World team in the MLB Futures Game at New York's Citi Field.
The game was a part of MLB's All-Star festivities and was an experience the 19-year old Pittsburgh Pirates prospect will never forget.
"It was the first time I ever played in a stadium like that," said the Columbia native, through the translation of fellow Power infielder Chris Diaz. "It was nice and it was an amazing experience.
"I never thought that I'd play in a stadium like that so young. I was nervous, but I thank the Lord for giving me the chance to do that. It was an honor to play for the Pirates and for my country because so many people are proud of me in Columbia."
Dilson joined former Power teammate Gregory Polanco on the World team, which dropped a 4-2 decision to Team USA.
Dilson entered the contest in the sixth inning and lined out to second base in his only at bat. Polanco, currently with the Pirates' Class AA team in Altoona, started the game in center field and finished 0-for-1 with a walk.
Power Manager Michael Ryan said he believes the experience will help his second baseman develop his game as he advances through the Pirates' minor league system.
"He was so excited that he got to taste that experience," Ryan said. "To play against the best prospects in the world and to be able to do it in a Major League stadium, to see that kind of setting, opened his eyes as far as what it would be like if he reaches the Major Leagues.
"I think that will fuel him to work that much harder and get back to a Major League stadium. The organization hopes he's the second baseman for the Pittsburgh Pirates one day. Just the strides he's made defensively are impressive. He's an offensive-type player, which in my opinion, fuels him to become better defensively. He knows what he has to do to get better and he does it day in and day out."
Dilson, who had an RBI single in the Power's 8-1 win over Savannah at Appalachian Power Wednesday evening, agreed.
"After playing there it sparked a fire," the 5-foot-10, 180-pound Herrera said. "I want to get better and better every day. I'm happy to be back here to continue to work.
"I have some things that I need to work on defensively, especially my double-play turns because I'm not completely comfortable there, but everything gets better with work and determination to get better."
That determination is one aspect of Herrera's game that doesn't need improvement.