By: Brad Krause & Kristoffer Olson
Change is constant in the world of minor league baseball, and if there’s one thing that Milwaukee Brewers shortstop prospect Luis Aviles thrives at, it’s adapting to change.
Born in Havana, Cuba, the slick-fielding 20-year-old moved to the United States at the age of 12, and after spending his high school years in Miami, Florida, Aviles was selected by the Brewers in the 30th round of the 2013 draft.
With an offer to attend school at Miami Dade College on the table, Aviles had a difficult decision to make. Attend college, or sign with the Brewers? After weighing his options, Aviles opted to sign with Milwaukee and start his journey towards his ultimate goal of reaching the major leagues.
“It was a tough decision because my agent and stuff, they wanted me to go to college” said Aviles. “But I took my own decision and I always wanted to play professional baseball and start my career early on. I thought by starting my career, I would have a little more chance to develop since I was already inside the organization. So I took the decision to sign and here I am right now, still battling to work myself up to the big leagues.”
Upon signing with Milwaukee, Aviles went from Florida to Maryvale, Arizona, where he began his pro career with the Brewers affiliate in the Arizona League. He appeared in 42 games in 2013, hitting .207 with 14 runs batted in. The adjustment from high school to the pros was a big one, and Aviles noticed some definite differences.
“It was a big change for me because high school baseball is not the same as pro baseball” said Aviles. “The game got to me a little bit faster, and the game speed. I had to adjust by taking a lot of ground balls. I had to work a lot during that season and during the offseason as well.”
That work he put in paid off for Aviles and ultimately led to a promotion to Helena of the Pioneer League in 2014. He appeared in 53 games for Helena as the Brewers starting shortstop and posted much improved offensive numbers as well, hitting .251 with two home runs while stealing 11 bases and scoring 24 runs.
“I learned to slow down the game a little bit” said Aviles, “because the more you go up, the more you get to learn about the game, and you’re developing so you have to learn how to control yourself and slow the game (down). When you play with confidence everything goes well for you.”
Showing the ability to learn and develop on the baseball diamond, Aviles impresses off the field as well with his ability to adapt to teammates from all different cultures. He speaks both English and Spanish, allowing him to communicate with all of his teammates, while serving as a mentor to many of the young Latin players in the Brewers organization.
“I find it as an advantage because I speak both languages and I can communicate with the Latin players and the American players” Aviles said. “Sometimes when we have a team meeting or something, I’m that guy that has to be translating. Sometimes in the games when the catcher is an American player and the pitcher is a Latin player, I have to be the one coming up to the mound so I can translate the conversation. It has been a great experience for me to meet new people from different places. You meet people from the Dominican Republic. You meet people from Canada, people from Germany. Sometimes they are your teammates so you have to learn to deal with different people in life, so it’s been an experience for me to meet all those people and for them to be part of my life too. As a teammate you always want the best and you always try to look out for each other.”
Slated to begin the 2015 season at Class-A in the Midwest League, Aviles will follow in the footsteps of some other talented shortstops that have passed through Wisconsin in recent years. While shortstop is his primary position, he also has experience at third base and has worked some at second base as well.
“I came up in the organization as a shortstop, but I will play any position, as long as I get myself in the lineup. That’s the best thing for me. I just want to be in the lineup every day. And to be in the lineup every day you have to do whatever it takes, so if I have to be a utility player, I will be that player and give 100%.”
That versatility should serve him well with the Timber Rattlers and help keep him on the field this season as he looks to continue to grow and develop as a baseball player.
“My goal for the upcoming season is to focus on what I want to accomplish and work hard day-by-day” said Aviles. “Everyday try to become better and work to become a better player every single day because there’s something to learn every day.”