It may not have been his best start this season but it was very close. Virgil Vasquez' 8 inning, eight strikeout performance against the Jet Couriers Melbourne Aces last weekend was enough for the Minnesota Twins to see what everyone else in Australia has been thinking; Virgil Vasquez is good enough to get back to the Major Leagues.
After receiving the call Tuesday morning, Vasquez is lined up to join the Twins for pitchers and catchers in February pending a physical. If everything goes to plan he'll join teammate Brendan Wise and fellow Heat pitcher Liam Hendriks in Fort Myers, Florida at the conclusion of the season.
"I'm very excited, it's been a long fun road and I've enjoyed every moment." said Vasquez. "It's made me realise you never really know how you're going to end up with the dream you hold in your mind. Just allow the path that you're on to keep going and know that you're going to end up where you're supposed to be."
Dubbed as the Heat's "Zen Master", it was appropriate that Vasquez dropped the news to teammates at a Chinese meditation (Qigong) session led by the Heat ace to introduce his colleagues to the art that he says has transformed his career.
"It's an opening to find out more of who I am. With the qigong and the meditation, just living life with a different attitude without fear, and trying to enjoy every moment. I've just got to thank the Heat, the organisation, and especially my teammates. They've been behind me all the way and without them I can't get any outs as they make all the plays. Fish, Lloydy and all of the guys, even my family back home as well; it's been a real privilege to be here."
While the Twins might say otherwise, Vasquez isn't planning on this great news getting in the way of the reason he travelled to Australia, helping the Heat win a third consecutive championship. Vasquez named a specific date he would like to return to the United States, which coincidentally happens to be the date of the conclusion of the Championship Series.
"I expect to stay at least until February. I'm not sure when I'm meant to report but February 10th doesn't look like a bad date to go to Fort Myers."
The Minnesota Twins have a history of signing players from Perth and throughout Australia. Luke Hughes and Liam Hendriks have been the highest profiled acquisitions from Western Australia, alongside fellow Australian Major Leaguers Grant Balfour, Trent Oeltjen, Peter Moylan and Brad Thomas.
"The story is I was pitching in Melbourne, there's a guy called Howie Norsetter over there who signed Luke Hughes and a few other Perth boys, he watched me pitch and liked what he saw and turned my name in and it happened just a few days later." said Vasquez of the process the Twins went through.
Vasquez signing is not only a landmark signing for the Heat, but also for the league, which was developed as a joint venture alongside Major League Baseball for this very reason. With Vasquez illustrating how players coming to Australia and enjoy success, the signs are promising that Australia will see more players of Vasquez' calibre in the future.
"You always hear there are scouts and affiliated coaches in Australia. There's always people watching you, and that's what I've always known and told people. No matter where you play, just go and play and enjoy yourself and love the game. There's always someone watching you, so if you play with Heat and play with passion, if it's meant to be, it's meant to be."