Dariel Álvarez: The journey from Camagüey to Japan

By Yusseff Díaz

Dariel Álvarez signed with the Baltimore Orioles in 2013 as an international free agent and promptly began his career with the

Gulf Coast Orioles, the team’s rookie league affiliate. That only lasted four games because he hit a whopping .443 and was promoted to Frederick Keys (A+) where he also hit .436 in a pit stop there. He finished off the year hitting .322 at Bowie (AA). All in all the native of Camagüey had a successful first year in pro ball.

In 2014 Álvarez began the season at Bowie and hit .309 with 14 longballs and 68 runs batted in and was selected to the Futures Game. He finished the season at AAA (Norfolk) and hit .301 in 44 games. In 2015 Álvarez mauled the pitching at AAA and was called up to the Majors on April 28. On September 11,2015 he hit his first homerun in the Majors against Kansas City’s Danny Duffy. In two big league seasons that was the only homer he hit, and he also batted .250 during that time.

In 2017 the team decided to try to convert him into a pitcher due to the fact that he possessed a 96-mph fastball. Álvarez had also pitched in Cuba with the Camagüey Toros compiling a record of 1-4 and an ERA of 3.62, he also saved two games as a reliever. He was originally scouted by the ball club as a pitcher before his signing, but he preferred to hit,” The switch to pitcher was something the organization discussed with me, but I would also continue to hit.

Hitting is something I enjoy. Seeing what Ohtani did I was preparing to be a hitter /pitcher. I will primarily be a reliever. “

Tommy John Surgery 

Right when he was preparing to make the switch to pitcher the inevitable happened, he blew out his arm. In his second game as a reliever in the Gulf Coast League he injured his arm and needed Tommy John surgery. On April 6 of 2017 he was released by the club so he could be removed from the 40-man roster and then resigned to a minor league contract two days later. He spent 2018 recovering from Tommy John and opted for free agency after the season.

A Caribbean League Stalwart 

Álvarez has had plenty of experience in the Caribbean and has been very successful in his incursions in the circuit. In four seasons in the winter leagues, he has hit .306 with 35 homers and 136 runs batted in including a Most Valuable Player award last season with the Jalisco Charros when he led the Mexican Pacific League in longballs (16) and runs driven in (56). He even made an appearance as a reliever for Jalisco striking out a batter in 0.1 innings of work.

The outfielder has had plenty of Caribbean World Series experience including a wonderful 2016 tournament in Santo Domingo with Venezuela’s Aragua Tigers,” My experience in the Caribbean Series with Aragua was a beautiful one. I’m always thankful for the way I have been treated by the Venezuelan League. I’m grateful for the treatment Carlos Guillen and Jorge Urribarri have afforded me, they have treated like another Venezuelan.”

He led the 2016 Caribbean World Series in hitting with an average of .458 and even drove five runs during the tournament and was a key component in the Tigers journey to the final.

Photo (Web Screen Shot): During his time in the LMP, Dariel Álvarez has been a big bat for Jalisco

Hola México

In 2019 Álvarez made his debut in the Mexican league with the Tijuana Toros after signing with ball earlier that year, even with a midseason trade to trade to Saltillo the Cuban had a solid season. In 117 games between both clubs, he still managed to hit .288 with 18 longballs and 88 runs driven in.

Álvarez was expected to be a integral part of Saltillo’s lineup in 2020 but COVID-19 for the Mexican League to cancel its season. Although he didn’t play in summer he did have an impact in the Mexican Winter League hitting a robust .309 with 8 homers and 39 runs batted in with the Charros de Jalisco.

Photo (Web Screen Shot): Dariel Álvarez is banking that his play in the Baseball Challenge League will land him a contract in the NPB

The Land of the Rising Sun

Álvarez decided not to return to México and better to try his luck in Japan’s independent league circuit with the Ibaraki Astro Planets of the Baseball Challenge League.

The ex-Oriole is hoping that his play in league gets him noticed by an NPB team leading to a juicy contract in the land of the rising son. Stayed tuned for that later in the season because it might just happen for the talented outfielder.

With Ibaraki he’s posted a line of .294/.355/.500/.855 and gone yard three times. He even has made an appearance on the mound with the Nippon club.

Always a Toro

During his time in the Cuban National Series, he managed to hit .292 and was a duel threat armed with a blazing fastball. Although he doesn’t follow the Serie Nacional Álvarez longs for the day he can return to his beloved Camagüey and suit up with his beloved Toros,” I would love to return and play in Candido González Stadium. I think it would be something very special. If we were all allowed to come back, we would have on heck of a team. Can you imagine Lele (Leslie Anderson), Adalberto (Ibarra), Dayron (Varona) and (Daniel) Carbonell. That would be a potent lineup.”

In what has been a career that has seen him triumph in many places, one for is for sure about the Cuban, he’s a versatile and talented player.

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