With names like Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz, Jose Reyes and Hanley Ramirez, Team Dominican Republic is full of star power. Their All-Star roster is a main reason they went a perfect 3-0 in pool play in the World Baseball Classic. However, there is one player who has shined for the Dominican, yet still remains somewhat unknown.
Chicago White Sox center fielder Alejandro De Aza is thriving in a very crucial role for Team Dominican Republic in the WBC. Batting 9th in the Dominican lineup, De Aza is doing a fantastic job of not only getting on base for the big bats at the top of the order, but also driving in key runs.
The 28-year-old outfielder is used to being the leadoff man for the White Sox, but he’s showing he can adjust to any role in the first few games for Team Dominican Republic in the Classic. With a triple-slash line of .444/.545/.667 in WBC play, De Aza has provided some unexpected production for the Dominican Republic. Not originally on the Dominican WBC roster, De Aza was added after Milwaukee Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez declined his invitation to play in the tournament.
De Aza’s importance for the Dominican Republic was on display in their unofficial Pool C championship game last night against Puerto Rico. With the game tied 2-2 in the sixth, the left-hander doubled home the go-ahead run and the Dominican went on to win 4-2. Winners of Pool C, De Aza and the Team Dominican Republic will take on Team Italy in the second round of the WBC on Tuesday in Miami.
I’ve been high on De Aza since Spring Training began, and his early success in the World Baseball Classic only adds to my optimism for a break out year with the Sox in 2013. White Sox fans should be giddy with joy over the fact that their leadoff man is producing offensively on a big stage like the WBC. De Aza’s 2012 accomplishments for the South Siders, along with his production for Team Dominican Republic in the Classic, leads me to believe that the White Sox may have found their long-term center fielder and leadoff man.
Matt Malecha is a Chicago White Sox writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @MattMalecha.