Not every player is going to be a Hall of Famer. Not every player is even going to enjoy an All-Star season. Some players just bide their time, waiting for their moment to shine when their team needs them most.
Jose Vizcaino etched out an 18-year baseball career behind solid contact, sound defense and becoming one of the best utility players in baseball. He was well-traveled, playing for eight teams over the course of his career, picking up his lone World Series ring in 2000 as a pivotal member of the New York Yankees bench. That 2000 ALCS against the Seattle Mariners showed Vizcaino’s true value as a player. He came off the bench in four of the six games that series. Twice he delivered crucial RBI pinch-hits, and another, as a pinch-runner, he stole a base and scored. That’s who Vizcaino was.
He was signed out of the Dominican Republic by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1986 and by 1989, at the age of 21, he made his big league debut. When he hung it up in 2006, he ended his career with a modest .270/.318/.346 slash line, 1453 hits, 36 home runs and 74 stolen bases. Vizcaino’s worth, however, could never be measured in stats, as his value came in some big pinch-hits throughout his career, as well as the ability to play a handful of full seasons when the opportunity arose.
Twenty-six years later, the Dodgers would draft Jose Vizcaino, Jr. out of Francis Parker High School in California. Despite his father’s ties to the organization and growing up a fan of the Dodger Blue, he passed and took his talents to Santa Clara. He became a First Team All-West Coast Conference shortstop in his sophomore season and a tremendous junior campaign saw him take home the 2015 College Sports Madness All-West Coast Conference Player of the Year.
Vizcaino, Jr. hit .335 in his 2015 junior year, registering 65 hits, 14 doubles, four triples, nine home runs and ten stolen bases behind a .588 slugging percentage and a .406 on-base percentage. Showing more pop than his father, the San Francisco Giants swooped in and made sure their NL West rivals didn’t have a second shot at Vizcaino, Jr. by making him their seventh-round selection in the 2015 MLB Draft.
Despite having the arm strength to stay at short, he was a bit error-prone and lacked the range to seemingly climb the ranks as a shortstop. The Giants immediately moved him to third and — to no surprise — he struggled at the hot corner in his 2015 debut in the Northwest League. He made 10 errors in 81 total chances (.877 fielding percentage) behind an unimpressive 2.29 range factor.
His bat, however, played just fine for Salem-Keizer. The 6-foot-2, 220-pound right-handed hitter slashed .288/.351/.476 while belting six home runs and 11 doubles over just 184 at bats, posting a very impressive 130 wRC+.
The Giants skipped him over Low-A and sent Vizcaino right to the California League. He had a nice April, but slowed down in May and June. He caught fire in mid-July, seeing a six-game hitting streak begin on July 14. He went 12-for-23 over that span, hitting one home run, while posting four straight multi-hit games and not striking out in three straight, showing that he does have a nice eye for the strike zone. On July 21, Vizcaino, Jr. was amid a 3-for-3 evening, with already five RBI on the night, when he rolled his ankle. He didn’t play for the rest of the season. He finished his sophomore campaign after only 83 games, slugging 26 extra-base hits, including seven home runs.
For more on Vizcaino, Jr. and his promising career, head on over to Today’s Knuckleball for my full feature by clicking on the link below: