True Blue, American Association Player of the Year, Vinny DiFazio, Has Contract Purchased By DodgersST. PAUL, MN January 18, 2016
TRUE BLUE, AMERICAN ASSOCIATION PLAYER OF THE YEAR, VINNY DIFAZIO, HAS CONTRACT PURCHASED BY DODGERS
ST. PAUL, MN (January 18, 2014) – Perhaps it was the Dodger Blue alternate uniforms the St. Paul Saints wore this season. Or maybe it’s just the Los Angeles Dodgers organization wanted two of the top players in the American Association in 2015. One week after Saints first baseman Angelo Songco had his contract purchased by the Dodgers, his teammate, and American Association Player of the Year, catcher Vinny DiFazio, will be joining him after the Dodgers purchased his contract. DiFazio’s contract becomes the 119th purchased from the Saints by a Major League organization, the 113th different player.
The 29-year-old DiFazio was one of the most feared hitters in the league all season. DiFazio put up Triple Crown type numbers finishing the year hitting .361 with 17 homers and 82 RBI. In 321 at bats he scored 70 runs, slugged 19 doubles, two triples, while posting a .467 on base percentage and .592 slugging percentage. DiFazio led the league in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. The Hampton, New Jersey native’s 82 RBI were tied for first, with his teammate Songco, and tied for the most all-time in a single season in Saints history (also with Songco). DiFazio’s 17 home runs were tied for third in the league.
“We are really happy for Vinny that he is getting this opportunity,” said Saints Manager George Tsamis. “He had a special season. It is really exciting that both Vinny and Angelo were purchased by the Dodgers and hopefully they get to play together in the 2016 season. They were probably the two top players in the league this past season."
DiFazio twice went on 12-game hitting streaks over the course of the season, one from June 10-23, which included 11 multi-hit games in a row, and another stretch from July 31-August 12. Perhaps the most impressive stretch for DiFazio came when he was named the Player of the Month for June after hitting .393 with seven home runs and 27 RBI in 22 games. In 89 at bats he scored 20 runs, roped four doubles, one triple, had an on base percentage of .449, a .697 slugging percentage and a 1.146 OPS over that span.
Behind the plate, DiFazio worked with a Saints pitching staff that was second in the league in ERA and set a franchise record for lowest ERA in its 23 year history at 3.24, while having four 10 game winners, becoming the second team to accomplish the feat in league history (Sioux City would also wind up with four 10 game winners becoming the third franchise to do it).
During the 2015 season DiFazio could have filled an entire shelf with the accolades he received. Along with the Player of the Year and June Player of the Month honors he was also named to the Post-Season All-Star Team, at catcher, and received the Player of the Week Award for the week of June 15-21.
DiFazio became the first St. Paul Saint to be named American Association Player of the Year and the second in team history to earn the top honors in any league. Third baseman Vince Castaldo was the last Saint to be awarded top individual honors when he was named the Northern League MVP in 1994.
After spending four seasons in the Texas Rangers farm system, DiFazio joined the Saints at the end of the 2014 season after being granted his release by the Grand Prairie AirHogs in the American Association.
DiFazio was originally selected in the 46th round of the 2006 June First Year Player Draft by the Baltimore Orioles out of Indian River Community College (Fort Pierce, FL), but elected not to sign. He helped his draft status by going to the University of Alabama and was selected in the 12th round by the Texas Rangers in 2009.
In his first season DiFazio was selected to the Northwest League Post-Season All-Star Team while having a solid inaugural campaign hitting .274 with seven homers and 29 RBI with the Spokane Indians. He was promoted and finished the year at Single-A Hickory and hit .290 with five homers and 17 RBI in 18 games.
In 2010 DiFazio dealt with a torn oblique muscle after beginning the season at Hickory. He worked his way back after rehabbing in the Arizona League and eventually reached High-A Bakersfield. Between the three stops he hit .275 with 12 homers and 37 RBI in 59 games.
DiFazio spent both 2011 and 2012 at High-A Myrtle Beach before missing all of 2013.
DiFazio is the fifth 2015 Saints player to have his contract purchased by a Major League organization. He is also the ninth purchased by the Dodgers in the franchises 23 year history. Songco had his contract purchased by the Dodgers on January 11. Rookie of the Year, reliever Mike Zouzalik had his contract purchased by the Baltimore Orioles following the 2015 season. Two players who were signed in the 2015 pre-season, but never played for the Saints, right-handed pitcher Chris Smith and left-handed pitcher Cody Wheeler, had their contracts purchased by the New York Yankees and Orioles, respectively.
The Saints have had a total of 119 contracts sold, 113 total players including six who had their contract sold twice. Of the 119 contracts sold eight were sold to international teams and a total of 21 have made it to the ultimate level of baseball following their time with the Saints (Julio DePaula, who played for the Saints in 2011, made it to the Major Leagues in 2014, never pitched in a game, but does not show up on the list below because his contract wasn’t purchased directly from the Saints).
The Saints begin the 2016 season on Thursday, May 19 at CHS Field vs. the Gary SouthShore Railcats at 7:05 p.m.