Fubon Guardians signed 1B/LF-R Xavier Batista to an unknown contract
A couple of years ago Xavier Batista was on the fast track to success. He had returned to professional baseball after having left the affiliated ranks in 2013. Following a three-year hiatus, he signed a developmental deal with the Hiroshima Toyo Carp of Nippon Professional Baseball’s Central League. Develop is exactly what the right-handed slugger did. By 2019 he had positioned himself as one of the anchors of the Carp’s offense. Then, he tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug and everything changed.
Batista found himself quickly jettisoned from the Carp and the JPCL as a whole. NPB and all of its member leagues have a strict policy against the use of performance-enhancing drugs and it is common for foreign players who test positive to find themselves exiled from the league with haste. Unfortunately for Batista, his problems didn’t end there as he had a short-lived and utterly terrible stint in Liga de Béisbol Profesional de la República Dominicana to finish out the 2019-2020 baseball calendar season. Where there was once promise now there appeared to be nothing but ruin.
What the Guardians are hoping is that last year’s return to baseball also signaled a definitive return to form for the product of San Pedro de Macorís. He spent the 2021 season in Liga Mexicana de Béisbol, splitting his time between Sultanes de Monterrey and Bravos de León. He was very good for both clubs, looking exactly like the pre-NPB exile Batista as opposed to the shell that had spent the 2019 winter in LIDOM. Between the two clubs, Batista slashed .296/.357/.573 with 19 home runs and 15 doubles in 291 plate appearances. Those are the sort of numbers the Guardians are counting on from their new foreign position player.
The Guardians likely understand that Batista will be striking out a fair amount and that he is a relatively free swinger who would rather make contact than take a walk. It’s not like that’s an extreme deviation from the typical Chinese Professional Baseball League hitter. The Guardians have more than likely signed Batista in the belief that he will make plenty of contact but that a great majority of it will be of the hard and long variety. Batista is meant to be the big bopper in the middle of a Guardians offense that was often anemic in 2021.
The reality is that Batista can be exactly the type of hitter the Guardians are expecting. There is the chance that he could struggle, but I’m not inclined to believe he will. He’s played in Asia before and has spent a few years traveling the world in general so acclimation to playing in Taiwan shouldn’t be an issue. It was clear in LMB last year that Batista still has the ability to be the same hitter he was in 2017-2019. He can be that same hitter for the Guardians and that is just what the team needs to not have an offense that the rest of the CPBL views as a complete walkover.
Lead photo courtesy of Unknown – Unknown