Photo credit: David Monseur/Accent Images/Courtesy Akron RubberDucks
Brayan Rocchio could be one of the next players to fit right into the Cleveland Guardians youth movement. At 21 years old, he’s three years younger than the average Double-A player but his confidence and ability to adjust to adversity shows a level of maturity that we’ve seen from young Cleveland players all year.
It’s impossible to talk to Brayan Rocchio without getting a sense for the love he has for his home country of Venezuela. Of course, he grew up and learned the game there, but he continues to value its culture and the family he has there while fully embracing its baseball community.
Behind most successful professional baseball players is someone who passed on a love for the game to them at a young age. For Rocchio, it was his grandfather, who he described as his best friend, that introduced him to baseball at four years old.
Rocchio emphasizes the importance of playing in front of his family and he was able to make that happen while participating in the Venezuelan Winter League last offseason.
“That was the best experience of my life. Playing in front of my family in Venezuela. That was the best month of my life.”
The experience wasn’t only a chance for Rocchio to play in front of his family but also to work on his game and play amongst a variety of Venezuelan players that include prospects and veterans alike. Top Blue Jays prospect Gabriel Moreno and top Brewers prospect Jackson Chourio played in the league last year as well as Asdrubal Cabrera who played eight seasons with Cleveland and 15 total in the Majors.
Rocchio’s numbers proved that he was feeling right at home playing in the Venezuelan Winter League. In 17 games played for Tiburones de La Guaira, Rocchio got on base 32 times and finished with an OPS over 1.000.
His favorite moment from the experience was when he hit a home run with his family in the stands for the first time.
The opportunity allowed Rocchio to return home to play some ball after he had already gained a few years of experience playing in America. He first appeared in the Arizona Complex League for Cleveland in 2018 and played for the organization’s former Low-A team, the Mahoning Valley Scrappers the following year. After all MiLB seasons were canceled in 2020, he joined High-A Lake County to start 2021 and found himself in Akron by the end of the year.
Being signed by a Major League team requires any international player to move to the United States and be able to adapt. Some of these adjustments include learning English which Rocchio has done and now does full interviews without a translator.
The biggest thing that has allowed Rocchio to feel at home in the United States is just continuing to play baseball.
“It’s nothing different. It’s still baseball, it’s still the same field. Of course, there are better pitchers and better defense here. I’m playing against Dominicans so I’m starting to play higher levels [of talent] here, but it’s still baseball.”
With his arrival to Akron, Rocchio has had to show patience and an ability to adjust to the talent of Double-A as one of the younger players on the RubberDucks’ roster. He didn’t settle in until two months into his 2022 campaign as he started the season hitting just .205 with three homers in 48 games. He took the tough start as a learning opportunity.
“I’ve learned how to play hard when I have a bad day or a bad month. That’s my most important experience this year.”
Rocchio has really been able to turn around his season over the last two months. Since June 15, he’s batting .348 with nine homers in 35 games and his season OPS is now .805.
When he has found success this year, he’s been able to show smooth pull side power and some patience at the plate.
His biggest moment during this hot stretch came on the road against Erie on June 30, when he had two homers. Unsurprisingly, it is Rocchio’s favorite personal performance of the season so far. He won’t tell you that he ever swings for homers but admits that he can do a lot of damage with some pitches more than others.
It hasn’t only been the offense that has heated up for the infielder lately. He’s also had a number of web gems playing up the middle for Akron this summer.
A big part of any player’s success is the quality of their teammates and coaching staff. When asked about his favorite players to play with on the RubberDucks, Rocchio mentioned just about everybody on the team.
“I feel like that’s my second family, you know, I feel comfortable with those guys. I love to play with all these guys.”
Rocchio also has an appreciation for his manager Rouglas Odor, a Venezuela native.
“He comes from the same place as me so we have a good connection. I come to the field every day and he tells me what he saw from me in the last game and how I can get better for the next game. I learn a lot of stuff every day from him.”
Although Rocchio has started to put up great numbers in recent weeks, he knows needs to stay focused and can continue to improve.
“I just try to be more consistent with my game and with my attitude. I need to be consistent no matter if I have a good moment or a bad moment to be ready for the next level.”
Brayan Rocchio Profile
Hometown: Caracas, Venezuela
Walkup song: LINDOR – Mora
Favorite food: Pabellón criollo (steak, rice, plantains and beans)
Favorite activity besides baseball: Boogie boarding/swimming
Favorite baseball movie: The Perfect Game
Favorite part about Akron: the field at Canal Park
Favorite players to watch: Francisco Lindor, Asdrubal Cabrera, Carlos Gonzalez
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