Coming off a breakout 2011 season for the Dodgers, outfielder Alfredo Silverio was driving to the team’s Dominican complex in January, but he never made it to the academy.
Instead, Silverio got into a nasty car accident. The car was completely totaled. Silverio, who was wearing a seatbelt, survived the crash, but he suffered serious injuries that cost him the entire 2012 season.
“That was tough,” said Silverio, who was picked by the Marlins in yesterday’s Rule 5 Draft. “It was terrible. I’m happy that I’m alive.”
The Dodgers brought Silverio in for tests and determined that he had a concussion. Only there was one problem: Silverio said the test was done in English. Silverio signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2003 and can speak English, but it’s not his native language. Silverio said he understood everything the doctors were telling him, but he wanted to think about what they were saying before he responded, which may have been misinterpreted.
With Silverio’s concussion, the Dodgers wanted him to stay off the field, but Silverio asked the Dodgers if he could get a second opinion. When Silverio went to the University of Pittsburgh a few weeks later for a test—this time conducted in Spanish—Silverio said they told him he did not have a concussion. Even with that, Silverio still missed the entire 2012 season, as he had Tommy John surgery that spring, which Silverio said he believes was the result of an elbow injury he sustained in the car accident.
Silverio had just ranked as the No. 12 prospect in the Southern League and the No. 4 prospect in the Dodgers system in 2011, when he hit .306/.340/.542 in 132 games for Double-A Chattanooga as a 24-year-old. He hit 16 home runs, 42 doubles and tied for the minor league lead with 18 triples. He stole 11 bases but was caught 12 times, an obvious area in need of improvement.
Silverio flashed five average or better tools, with an impressive combination of athleticism, strength and bat speed. Silverio only drew 30 walks that season, but several scouts who saw him in 2011 said he managed his plate appearances well and understood how to get a pitch he could handle in his hitting zone.
Yet instead of moving up to Triple-A with a chance to make his major league debut, Silverio spent the 2012 season on the sidelines. At first, Silverio couldn’t get on the field at all. He ran on the treadmill, trained in the gym and focused on strengthening his legs.
“It was really hard,” Silverio said in Spanish. “I was going crazy here in Arizona seeing everybody playing. I was just there doing nothing. For three months I couldn’t play.”
Silverio, who turns 26 in May, started throwing again in Arizona a few days before he went back home to the Dominican Republic in September. He has spent his winter in the Dominican Republic practicing with the program he used to train with before he signed run by Juan Garcia and Victor Brus. He’s also been working with Dodgers scout Rafael Rijo, the father of Red Sox 17-year-old shortstop Wendell Rijo, who trained with Brus and signed with the Red Sox for $575,000 in July.
Silverio said he had planned to join the Toros in the Dominican League as a DH soon, although he wasn’t sure if things might change now with the Marlins. While his arm isn’t back to 100 percent yet, Silverio said his swing is back at full strength and he’s been facing live pitching. He credited Dodgers vice president of amateur scouting Logan White and vice president of player development De Jon Watson for supporting him through a difficult season and keeping him informed about their decision to remove him from the 40-man roster this year, as well as the Dodgers training staff that helped him in his rehab.
His goal with his new organization is simple.
“I need to stay healthy,” Silverio said. “I’m going to try to go back 100 percent and try to help the team to win some games. The priority right now is to stay healthy. I really believe I’m going to stay healthy all year.”