RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - 2015 was a memorable season for VCU baseball. The Rams advanced to the program’s first ever NCAA Super Regional, thanks in part to the efforts of then-senior shortstop Vimael Machin.
Five years later, Machin is taking another big stage, this one at the highest level of the sport. The former Ram is on the Oakland Athletics' roster for the American League Wild Card Series, making him part of a postseason club.
“To have [Vimael] there and to track his progress and see his dream come true has been a real special thing for me,” VCU head coach Shawn Stiffler said.
Stiffler isn’t surprised by Machin’s rise to the majors. The infielder provided plenty of big moments in a Rams' uniform and grew into quite a leader, so much so that his former head coach remembers him being similar to another coach on the field.
“[Vimael] is what we call a connector. He brings everybody together,” Stiffler recalled. “He was able to just keep everybody focused on the same thing. He was a guy who always wanted to ball hit to him, he always wanted to be up in the big situations.”
Machin was drafted by the Cubs in the 10th round of the 2015 Major League Baseball Draft, and made his big league debut with Oakland on July 26. He’s seen 63 at-bats in 24 games and is hitting .206 on the year. For his alma mater, it’s nice to have somebody to point to who was in their shoes.
“It makes guys realize that the same struggles they’re going through here, the same ground ball that they kicked or slider that they swung through, so did Vimael six or seven years ago and you just have to remind them of that,” explained Stiffler.
It may be a team that’s about 3,000 miles away, but the black and gold clubhouse now has plenty of green and gold fans in it, at least this October. Machin may not play much as a back-up during the postseason, but Stiffler knows that his former player will make the most of any opportunity.
“Vimael’s a winner. That’s probably why he’s on the team is they saw the things that he does, the little things he does every at-bat and his ability to play multiple positions defensively,” Stiffler pointed out. “V will make his presence know I’m sure.”
Machin has yet to record playing time in the American League Wild Card series. Oakland topped the White Sox on Wednesday, 5-3, to force a deciding Game 3 on Thursday.
Copyright 2020 WWBT. All rights reserved.