Rivera is known more for his defense than offense
The position of shortstop has evolved in baseball, from players being small, no-hit and all glove to the current trend of big shortstops with pop in their bats. Luis Rivera is a throwback to the days of the slick defensive shortstop.
But it’s not like Luis Rivera is a bad hitter at the plate. The Carolina, Puerto Rico product is hitting .284 on the year, second on the team and has scored 11 runs on the season, hitting mostly ninth in the Cyclones lineup. Rivera, however, prides himself on his defense.
“I just practice (my defense) a lot,” said Rivera. “Since I was a little kid, that was the best thing that I always did. I just practice everyday, take a lot of ground balls and do my job.”
Rivera’s defensive prowess is regularly on display with ground ball pitchers such as Tobi Stoner, Eric Brown and Jake Ruckle on the hill for the Cyclones. Rivera shows off good range and works well with his double play counterpart Jon Schemmel, making quick turns on throws and showcasing his soft hands on hard grounders.
Offensively, Rivera is a singles hitter, with the ability to handle the bat with runners on base. He’s adept at bunting and hit and running, and gives Cyclone Manager George Greer many options when the lineup turns over.
“I just prepare myself by hitting in the (batting) cage,” said Rivera. “I hit what I like and try to prepare myself for the game.”
Rivera said that he models himself after another defensive minded shortstop, San Francisco Giants shortstop Omar Vizquel.
“I picture myself like (Vizquel) because he’s very good defensively, he’s not a power hitter and he always puts the ball in play, like me,” said Rivera.. “He doesn’t strike out much and I compare myself to him.”
Rivera talked about the Cyclones recent success, who currently sit tied with the Staten Island Yankees for first place and the importance of playing good baseball down the stretch, heading into the final six weeks of the season.
“We’re hitting better,” said Rivera. “We need to hit. If we keep playing like that, we have a chance to make the playoffs. Our pitching staff have been outstanding the entire year, we have awesome pitchers. It helps a lot that we have a good defense. But we have to continue with the pitching and the defense.”
Rivera’s glove and his bat will be playing a role in his team’s quest for post-season glory.
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