Monday, May 5, 2008

Wil Nieves

One of my favorite Salt Lake players currently in the Major Leagues is Washington Nationals catcher Wil Nieves. Nieves was the primary catcher for Salt Lake during the 2003 and 2004 seasons and was typical of many players that have played for the Buzz-Stingers-Bees. A solid player AAA level player but not a Major League prospect. Nieves was never in the Angels catching position plans. He was holding the catching position long enough for Mike Napoli, Jeff Mathis, and Bobby Wilson to advance through the Angels system to the upper minor leagues. Nieves was a battler and played with a lot of hustle. He was friendly with the fans and would always take time to sign autographs before the game. He was polite, soft spoken, and he is the only player that I am aware of that used contemporary Christian music for his walk up song. By 2005, Jeff Mathis was ready to assume the AAA catching duties and Nieves was let go.

After leaving the Angels system, Nieves played three years for the AAA affiliate of the New York Yankees. He did appear in 35 games for Yankees and hit a soft .164. At the end of the 2007 season the Yankees released Nieves and he signed a minor league contract with the Washington Nationals. This move appeared to firmly established Wil Nieves as another minor league journeyman catcher.

Injury problems this season left the Nationals with little choice but to call Nieves to the Major Leagues. So far Nieves has made the most of his opportunity. He as played in 11 games for the Nationals, hitting .379. The crowing moment for Nieves was a walk off homerun he hit against the Chicago Cubs on April 26. Nieves' homerun is one of the things that make being a fan of a minor league team so much fun. It is heart warming to see a good guy like Wil Nieves have a moment of glory in the Major Leagues. Bees fans take a lot of pride that star players David Ortiz, Torii Hunter, Francisco Rodriguez, and John Lackey played for Salt Lake on their way to the Major Leagues. But what is exciting for me is seeing players like Wil Nieves, Nathan Haynes, and Ryan Budde making the most of their opportunity to play in the Major Leagues. Congratulations to Wil Nieves for his game winning homerun against the Cubs. Hope you hit a few more Major League homeruns this season.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed your thoughts on Nieves. It great to see one of the good guys finally enjoy some success in Bigs. Didn't know so many stars went through the Buzz-Stingers-Bees on their way to the majors. Enjoyed the blog. I'll be back for more.