Dayan Viciedo's slow starts

Cuban prospect Dayan Viciedo has been a disappointment early in his professional career, but that mostly stems from extremely high expectations. Of course, when the White Sox signed him to a $10 million contract that was bound to happen. He got off to a horrible start last year in AA Birmingham, but gradually improved. He is off to another slow start this year, but how does it stack up to what we saw last year? Are there signs of improvement?
Viciedo had a .518 OPS last April. He OPS’d .711, .746, .826, .676, .796 each month in order the rest of the way. For the most part you can see the improvement he made throughout the year. Maybe there’s some Cuban anti-April thing going on because he got off to another slow start this year like Alexei Ramirez has done three Aprils in a row now.

dayanviciedo.jpg

Of course, the luster of this post was partially taken away by Dayan going 8-20 with three home runs his last five games of the month to bring his OPS up to .716. How dare he! Before the recent hot streak, he was hitting .222 with a putrid .234 OBP. He was slugging .302 to put his OPS at .536.

‘Struggling with a .536 OPS’ brings the point home better than ‘struggling with a .716 OPS,’ but regardless, I will continue.

Here’s a comparison of his numbers from last April, the rest of 2009 and this April (2009 splits are from minorleaguesplits.com):

AVG OBP SLG OPS K%
April 2009 .221 .232 .286 .518 25.3
Rest of ’09 .290 .333 .409 .742 15.3
April 2010 .265 .282 .434 .716 27.1

As you can see he was far and away a better hitter after his first month of professional baseball. Also, it’s easy to see the comparison to this year’s start before his recent hot streak. Even now, there isn’t too much difference in the numbers from last April to this April other than his power.

He is striking out at a high, but not yet alarming rate. Considering his good strikeout rate last year, I wouldn’t get worried this early. His walk rate is still awful though.

So what does this mean? Can we assume Viciedo will make the same type of gradual improvement this year? No, but I’m trying to be optimistic. Viciedo dug himself into a big hole last year and that masked an otherwise respectable pro debut considering age and level.

This year he dug himself into another hole, but he might be getting out of it sooner. If Viciedo can make the same improvement this year, fewer people will be complaining about his production. I’m not saying he will, but considering where he was a year ago things aren’t as bad as they appear.

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Tags: Dayan Viciedo

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