In a year with a lot of disappointments, Guillermo Heredia has chopped his way into becoming an Atlanta Braves’ fan favorite.
Fast forward to July 6th and, well, only Ronald is still featured in the lineup.
In 22 games this season, Pache batted just .111 with only one home run and four RBIs (all of which came on a grand slam). After recovering from some injuries, the Braves optioned him to AAA Gwinnett.
Ozuna had a little more production, but was hitting .213 before injuring his hand against the Boston Red Sox, and we all know the news that emerged shortly after that injury.
To add some depth, the Braves turned to 30-year-old Guillermo Heredia, a move that has paid off thus far.
Heredia is slashing .274/.358/.452 with four homers and 18 RBIs on the year. He also sports a .810 OPS.
His breakout year has included some great highlights, most notably his performance against the Chicago Cubs in which he went 3-for-4 with six RBIs and two home runs, one being a grand slam. This performance came after manager Brian Snitker encouraged Heredia to be “more aggressive” at the plate (via Atlanta Journal-Constitution, subscription required).
He isn’t a flashy player, but he has been effective in getting on base, as evident by his .358 on base percentage. He has also hit well at the bottom of the team’s lineup, an area that has been lacking for the Braves this season.
A native of Cuba, Heredia broke in to the big leagues with the Seattle Mariners back in 2016. He has also played for the Tampa Bay Rays, Pittsburg Pirates, and New York Mets before being claimed off waivers by the Braves in February of this year.
Heredia joins a long list of relatively unknown players who have come out of nowhere to have productive years for Atlanta, such as Cameron Maybin, Adeiny Hechavarría, Charlie Culberson, and more.
Not only has he been good for the Braves on the field, he is also beloved by his fellow players. Charlie Morton had this to say about him in an article written back in April by Gabriel Burns of the AJC:
"“He’s great,” starter Charlie Morton said. “I had the pleasure of playing with him in Tampa (Heredia played 89 games for the Rays in 2019). He’s great on the field, he’s exciting to watch. He has speed, plays the outfield well. He’ll give you good at-bats. But I also just enjoy being around him.’’“When I found out we were going to have the opportunity to pick him up in spring training, I was really excited. I was excited for him, too, just knowing the kind of human being he is. I love the guy and I think he’s great.”"
With young outfield prospects like Pache, Drew Waters, and Michael Harris all developing in the minor leagues, it’s not likely that the Braves will make Heredia a permanent outfielder for the next several years. However, with his durability and reputation in the dugout, it would not be surprising to see Guillermo brought back as a bench player next season.
For his great play and on-point sword wielding, Braves fans everywhere salute Guillermo.