Is there anything more electrifying on a baseball team than having a pair of your star players shining in the middle of the diamond? Probably not, and that is exactly what might be a reality next year in Charleston. Marcos Vechionacci at shortstop and Mario Holmann manning second base. From all the readings we get, it looks like that scenario will come true. Both of these two rising stars have head turning talent and 2005 could be a big coming out party as it is the first full season league they will have played in for an entire season. There is certainly a lot to look forward to, looking up the middle in Charleston.
Early in the 2004 season, before the short season leagues had even begun, it was Mario Holmann that would grab onto the spotlight. The Yankees were looking for another option at second base to compliment Gabe Lopez and rather than pull players out of a competitive Battle Creek team, they reached lower into their system and called on Mario Holmann. He played back to back games in Tampa right away but he was slowed by bad luck after that. He suffered a broken thumb and he wouldn't return until the short season league was underway. Disappointingly, that is where Holmann was sent. To think that he was so close to hopping half way through the system in only his first season in America for it only to fall apart was frustrating for him, to say the least. He did return and was a big factor for the Gulf Coast Yankees but a sore thumb still hampered him and it showed in his numbers. However, Mario battled through and was still able to help the Gulf Coast Yankees to a league championship. Perhaps it is just a postponement of the inevitable because it looks as if Holmann will get his chance again next year to strut his stuff in a full season league.
The Yankee organization obviously felt very comfortable with putting Mario Holmann in High A Tampa this year. For them to a put a 20 year old with no professional experience in full season ball, we are obviously looking at a very special player. "Holmann is a very fine player. He is quick and has a real nice stroke. He actually got some time in Tampa this year but hurt his thumb and wasn't really right until almost the end of the season. He looked very good in the instructional league," said Yankee Minor League Hitting coach, Bill Mosiello. Holmann, a Nicaraguan native, opened a lot of eyes in the Dominican Summer League in 2003 and that earned him the shot in the United States that he now has. He seems all but assured of nailing down the second base job in Charleston next year. One thing we know he will bring is his blazing speed, though. Many times it has been said that of him that "he does not run, he flies." (More on Holmann in an upcoming scouting report.)
I guess if you think Mario Holmann is an electrifying player, you will be flat out knocked out by the talent of Marcos Vechionacci. In his extremely young career, the 18 year old has already received the tag of a "special player" and many other complimentary names as well. "Nacci" started this season in the Gulf Coast League and put up monstrous statistics playing third base and shortstop. He quickly was moved up where, in Staten Island, he didn't miss a beat. However, due to the fact that older players had to get playing time, Vechionacci was sent back to a league that everyone knew he could dominate in. "He is so smooth at the plate and is always relaxed. It is hard to find that in such a young guy," said Yankee Minor League roaming infield instructor, Andy Stankiewicz. "He is just barely 18 years old. He also has the frame to fill into so that should help him as well. Once he gets bigger and stronger, filling out, he could be something very special." Stankiewicz had just as much praise for the the young Venezuelan on defense as well. "He is very solid for such a young age. He is smooth in the field and doesn't make a lot of mistakes which are common in players even a couple years older than he is. It appears that we are going to let him play shortstop for a while." Is that enough praise for you? (More on Vechionacci in an upcoming scouting report.)
Vechionacci showed that he could do it all in his short season with the Gulf Coast League and Staten Island. He compiled most of his numbers in the Gulf Coast where he batted .336 with four home runs. His defense was also very sharp everywhere he played on the field. But, it appears the organization is eager to see what he can do as an everyday shortstop next year in Charleston. It is not everyday that you find a shortstop that can hit like he can.
"This organization is suddenly stacked at the middle infield positions and I don't know what they are going to do with all of them. It is a nice problem to have though." Well. Bill Mosiello says it all with this one simple statement. Headlined by these two guys, the Yankees are suddenly loaded in the middle infield positions. Thanks to some star power guys like these two, Charleston could become a fun place to watch a ballgame. With a combine age of under 40, the organization has high hopes that these two could remain a dynamic middle infield duo all the way up through the farm system.