Dayan Viciedo of the Chicago White Sox (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Cuban slugger Dayan Viciedo has been named to the 2011 Major League Baseball All-Star Futures Game on July 10th, playing for the World Team. The White Sox signed him out of Cuba in 2008 for a major league contract worth $10 million. It took him some time to adapt to North America, but he's ripping the ball for Triple-A Charlotte this year, earning the All-Star honor.
Viciedo began his pro career by hitting .280/.317/.391 with 12 homers for Double-A Birmingham in 2009. This was considered somewhat disappointing, with less power than anticipated, but he was just 20 years old. He improved in the power department in 2010, hitting .274/.308/.493 in 86 games for Charlotte, then .308/.321/.519 in a 38-game, 104 at-bat trial with the White Sox. He's been excellent this year for Charlotte, hitting .329/.369/.530 in 78 games.
In 164 career Triple-A games, Viciedo has hit .300/.338/.511 with 33 homers, 39 doubles, 29 walks, and 138 strikeouts in 699 plate appearances.
Viciedo is a big guy at 5-11, 230. A right-handed hitter, he has outstanding raw power and has tapped into his physical strength more effectively over the last year. He crushes fastballs and has power to all fields, giving him a good chance to hit for a high average. He has made progress improving his reads on breaking pitches, but while his plate discipline is still a weakness, he's shown the willingness to make adjustments and learn from his mistakes. Given his age, his upside is huge.
Viciedo's biggest problem is defense. He has a strong throwing arm, but washed out as a third baseman and is just mediocre at first base. The White Sox are playing him primarily in right field at Charlotte, with results that can be described generously as mediocre. In the long run he'll probably be a DH who can fill in at first base or a corner outfield spot in an emergency.
Despite his defensive limits, Viciedo's bat makes him a player to watch very closely. If his offense develops as the White Sox hope, he could make future Major League All-Star games, in addition to minor league ones.