Saturday , July 15, 2017 - 3:25 PM1 comment
“If I were to pick the guy on the team that’s the best teammate, he’s the guy I would pick,” said Ogden Raptors hitting coach Justin Viele. “He’s outstanding in the clubhouse, everyone loves him.”
And who could not love him? Not only does the Raptors hitter care deeply about his teammates, but also about his opponents.
This was exemplified Thursday, July 13, when Missoula Osprey outfielder and fellow Brazilian countryman Gabriel Maciel went down with an injury after diving on a fly ball. Paz ran out from the infield to come to his aid. Paz, who speaks English, Spanish and Portuguese, helped trainers understand what Maciel was saying.
“That’s just the kind of guy he is,” Viele said. “He’s just an awesome guy to have on the team.”
Born in the soccer-crazy country of Brazil, the 21-year-old Paz says it can be tough for baseball players to play with any regularity in his homeland. Most of the time, he played only a few times per month.
Playing ball every day has been both a pleasure and a challenge for the native of Marilia, Brazil, but he said being a member of the Raptors and playing in Ogden has been very exciting.
Looking at the Pioneer League’s batting leaders, Paz is consistently near the top in almost every major category. As of Saturday, he was first in home runs, RBIs and slugging percentage, and third in batting average.
The key, according to Paz, has been keeping it simple.
“I just see the ball and hit it,” said Paz, translated from Spanish. “I don’t worry too much about what else is going on, I just focus on seeing the ball all the way through.”
Viele attributes Paz’s success to his work ethic.
“He’s definitely one of the guys who’s one the first in the batting cage and he does the same routine every day. He does a very disciplined batting practice. So it’s great to see his success.”
Listed as a outfielder, first baseman and catcher, Paz faces the typical challenge for a utility player: getting enough reps at each position.
“It’s definitely hard, being a utility guy,” Viele said. “Trying to move around and get enough work at each spot, but he’s doing a great job.”
Viele thinks the sky’s the limit for Paz.
“I’m optimistic and I think he’s a big leaguer, just the way he works. And if he continues to get better and better each year with the approach that he’s taking, he has a chance to hit, for sure.”
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