Red Sox catching prospect Diego Viloria celebrated his 19th birthday on Wednesday. The Venezuelan-born backstop originally signed with Boston for $25,000 as an international free agent in July 2019.
Since he was still a ways away from turning 17 at that time, Viloria spent the rest of the 2019 season playing in the unofficial Tricky League down on the Dominican Republic.
The Tricky League is considered unofficial since there are no league standings or playoffs. Statistics are tracked by teams but are not made available to the public, meaning the true purpose of the league — as Baseball America’s Ben Badler put it — is “for teams to get their (latest) signings playing in games as soon as possible.”
Because the Trickly League is not official, Viloria had his first true taste of pro ball taken away from him when the 2020 minor-league season was cancelled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rather than getting to play in the Dominican that summer, Viloria — like many minor-leaguers — returned to his home country to wait out the pandemic. After that lengthy shutdown period, Viloria flew back to the DR last July and was finally on the cusp of his making his professional debut.
Upon arriving at the Red Sox’ academy outside of Santo Domingo, Viloria was assigned to the club’s Dominican Summer League Blue affiliate and debuted for the team on July 15. He picked up his first hit as a pro four days later.
On the 2021 campaign as a whole, Viloria appeared in a total of 25 games — all at catcher. Over the course of those 25 contests, the right-handed hitter batted a stout .278/.358/.361 (109 wRC+) to go along with two doubles, two triples, eight RBIs, 12 runs scored, two stolen bases, four walks, and 13 strikeouts across 81 plate appearances.
Defensively, Viloria mainly split time behind the plate with fellow Venezuelan and 2019 signee Rivaldo Avila for the DSL Red Sox Blue. When he was back there, though, the 5-foot-10, 165 pounder logged 176 2/3 innings and threw out 10 of the 26 (or 38%) of the base runners who attempted to steal against him.
On the scouting front, there does not appear to be too much information available on Viloria, though it seems like arm strength could understandably be one of his standout tools.
At present, Viloria in not regarded by any major publication as one of the top catching prospects in Boston’s farm system on account of the fact he is currently sitting behind the likes of Connor Wong, Ronaldo Hernandez, Kole Cottam, Jaxx Groshans, and Enderso Lira in the organizational depth chart.
That being said, Viloria is projected by SoxProspects.com to begin the 2022 season with the rookie-level Florida Complex League Red Sox. The Caracas native is already in Fort Myers for minor-league spring training, so it should be interesting to see if he can continue to develop and make his impact felt in the United States.
(Picture of Diego Viloria via his Instagram)