Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Out of all of the Phillies the one that I have gotten the most questions about from people off the internet by email and from friends and coworkers into fantasy baseball is Shane Patrick Victorino, a.k.a. The Flyin’ Hawaiian. Victorino is a very intruiging player: a defensive genius ideally suited to play center field or right field with his tremendous range and powerful throwing arm, and a raw talent at the plate. Is Victorino a good pickup for your fantasy team? Will he help the Phillies win? Let’s start, today, with a look at how Shane Victorino became a Phillie:
Shane Victorino was born in 1980 in Wailuku, Hawaii, a town on the island of Maui, east of Lahaina, the main town on the island. He grew up there and went to St. Anthony’s High School in Wailuku.
As an aside … anyone who has ever been to Hawaii typically raves about Maui and how gorgeous it is. My wife and I took our Honeymoon to Hawaii in ’04 and loved it. While we both liked Maui over crowded, bustling Oahu, I encourage anyone going to Hawaii to consider going to Kauai, the oldest and most western of the Hawaiian islands. It is quieter and less expensive than Maui, and just as lush and interesting. That said, Maui is absolutely perfect, an ideal vacation / honeymoon spot. If I grew up there, I’d never leave. I guess Victorino really loves baseball …
A talented player, Victorino was selected in the sixth round of the 1999 amateur draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers. He was the 194th overall pick. He went to the Dodgers rookie team in the Pioneer League and appeared in 55 games that season. Victorino hit well enough in 1999, amassing a .335 OBP and a .111 ISO, not bad for minor league ball, when player’s haven’t developed their power stroke. He also displayed some speed, hitting six triples and stealing twenty of twenty-five bases. He performed well enough to be elevated to the Dodgers Single-A affiliate, the Yakima Bears of the Northwest League. Victorino was given a new position – second base – and saw some of his numbers slip: he stole 21 of 30 bases, but only hit two triples and .072 ISO. His OBP declined to .310 … The next several seasons Victorino continued on the long torturous journey through the minor leagues, playing in small towns across the Pacific Northwest, North Carolina and Florida. He was a part of the Dodgers organization from 1999-2002 when the team left him unprotected in the Rule 5 draft and he was taken by the San Diego Padres on December 16, 2002.
What’s the Rule 5 draft? It is a little complicated … Basically, to prevent players from being stockpiled on teams, the major leagues decreed that any player not on his team’s 40-man roster can be taken if it has been four or more years since he was drafted. As quickly as that, Victorino found his way to the Padres, where he played sparingly, appearing in 36 games and hitting just .151 (11-for-73) with eight runs scored and four RBIs. As part of the Rule 5 draft a player has to stay on the 25-man roster of the team that drafted him for the entire season. If not, then he’s returned to his original team.
That is what ended up happening in Victorino’s case. He was returned to the Dodgers on May 28, 2003, after his struggles in San Diego and once more reverted to the Dodgers system, going to the Dodgers Southern League (Double-A) affiliate, the Jacksonville Suns, before being promoted to the Las Vegas 51’s, the Dodgers Triple-A affiliate in the famed Pacific Coast League (PCL). Victorino showed major improvement in Jacksonville and Las Vegas. With the Suns Victorino raised his OBP and slugging percentages several points over his stint with the team the previous year. He also hit very well with the 51’s, with a .395 OBP and .585 slugging percentage. After playing with both teams in 2004, Victorino was once more snapped up in the Rule 5 draft, this time by the Phillies on December 13, 2004. The Phillies kept Victorino on the team’s roster briefly before sending him to the Scranton Red Barons for finishing. In ’06 he became a full-time member of the Phillies, filling in at various points as the Phillies fourth outfielder before taking over for Bobby Abreu once he was dealt to the Yankees in late July of ’06.
Tomorrow we’ll delve into Victorino’s potential in 2007 by looking at some of his numbers from the minors and with the Phillies in ’05 & ’06.
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