W.Va. Power: Herrera's eyes opened in Futures Game
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.
"What I like about him the most is how he loves the game," Ryan said. "When he's not in the lineup for a day off to give him some rest, he gets upset. He wants to play every day and there are a lot of guys in the clubhouse that don't do that."
Ryan believes that Herrera, in just his second season at second base after playing shortstop and third base in the Venezuelan League, has made strides defensively, but is a more accomplished hitter at this stage of his career.
Herrera batted .281 in 53 games at rookie league Bradenton last season with 7 homers and 27 RBI before being promoted to short-season Class A State College, where he batted .321 in seven games.
In 73 games this season, Herrera has a .260 average with 7 homers, 17 doubles and 38 RBI.
"With that bat, if he can profile that as a second baseman, he's going to play this game a long time," Ryan said. "He's so far ahead of the curve as far as his age, which is exciting. You can't imagine what this guy's going to be like when he's 21 or 22, three years down the line.
"That's what the Pirates see and that's why they're so high on him. He's on the fast track. He's just a strong guy that can hit the ball out of the park to all fields. He drives the ball well for a second baseman and his profile fits as an offensive second baseman. The organization is very high on him and he deserves that."
Herrera also puts his time in off the field as well, as he works to speak English more fluently. Herrera speaks English relatively well, but is more comfortable in his native Spanish when talking for prolonged periods of time.
"As hard as he works on the field, he works that much harder on his English," Ryan said. "He does that because he wants to be around his teammates and he loves being in the clubhouse. When you talk about having a perfect season and a guy that you love to manage, Dilson comes right to the top of the list."
Power starting pitcher Tyler Glasnow (6-2) picked up the win Wednesday in scattering five hits over five innings. Glasnow allowed just one run while striking out six.
West Virginia improved to 13-11 in the South Atlantic League's second half and 50-44 overall, while Savannah dropped to 10-13, and 53-39.
Savannah took the lead in the first on an RBI triple by Stefan Sabol, but West Virginia answered in the bottom half of the inning when Josh Bell's sacrifice fly scored Herrera, who reached on a one out walk.
West Virginia took the lead for good in the fourth as Gabriel Ynoa (10-4) was touched for RBI hits by Herrera and Kawika Emsley-Pai. Max Moroff also plated a run with an RBI groundout.
Jonathan Schwind led West Virginia with three hits, including an RBI hit in the fifth inning, while Raul Fortunato knocked in a pair of runs with a single in the seventh.
Power relievers Ryan Hafner and Bryton Trepagier each worked two innings of scoreless relief to close out the game.
Game two of the three-game series is set for tonight at 7:05.