The Blue Jays are headed to the postseason for the second consecutive year after winning an American League Wild Card. As this will be the first time that many fans across the Majors will be focusing on their roster, here's our attempt to learn the origins of slugger José Bautista.Jose
The Blue Jays are headed to the postseason for the second consecutive year after winning an American League Wild Card. As this will be the first time that many fans across the Majors will be focusing on their roster, here's our attempt to learn the origins of slugger José Bautista.
Jose Bautista, OF
Born: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
HS: De La Salle (D.R.)
College: Chipola College
Minors: GCL Pirates (Rookie), Williamsport (Class A), Hickory (A), Lynchburg (Class A Advanced)
:: Before they were postseason-bound: Select a player ::
Path to Toronto: Bautista was drafted by the Pirates in the 20th round in 2000. Before the 2004 season, he was selected in the Rule 5 Draft by the Orioles. That year, he was claimed off waivers by the Rays, purchased from Tampa Bay by the Royals and traded to the Mets and immediately flipped to the Pirates on July 30. Bautista played for Pittsburgh through August 2008, when he was traded to the Blue Jays in a waiver deal for a player to be named, who became Robinzon Diaz.
Trophy case: Six-time American League All-Star with Toronto (2010-15), two-time MLB home run leader (2010-11), two-time Hank Aaron Award winner (2010-11), three-time Silver Slugger (2010-11, '14), five-time AL Player of the Month.
Famous feat(s): Hit the game-winning three-run homer in the deciding Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS against the Rangers. Leads MLB in home runs since 2010. Set a Blue Jays single-season record with his 48th home run in 2010, en route to 54 that season. Is one of 27 Major League players with a 50-homer season, and the only Blue Jay.
You might not know: Bautista holds the Major League record for the largest home run increase in a single year -- 41. Bautista went from hitting 13 home runs in 2009 to 54 in 2010. Davey Johnson held the previous record after a 38-home-run increase from 1972-73.
Six degrees of Willie Aikens: From 2006-08, Bautista played in the Dominican Winter League for the Tigres del Licey, alongside a slew of notable Major Leaguers. Hanley Ramirez, Carlos Ruiz, Erick Aybar, James Loney, Ubaldo Jiménez and Ervin Santana were just a few of his teammates during that time. Bautista's Tigres won the 2008 Caribbean Series.
Joey Bats, investor: Off the field, Bautista is involved in the business world well beyond endorsements. He sits on the board of directors for the baseball equipment company Marucci, he owns a Booster Juice store in Toronto and in 2015 became the first 255 global ambassador for Silver Jeans Co.
"I see the benefit of the growth over time in the company and how much we as athletes affect that growth," Bautista said. "If you believe in the product, if you believe in the company and you're truly an endorser, why shouldn't you participate with equity or ownership in that particular business? You're going to be part of the learning process, you're going to be part of the growth, you're going to affect the success if you do what you're supposed to do."
Back to school: Every year, Bautista returns to Chipola College in Florida to participate in the school's Alumni Weekend. He takes part in the annual home run derby against some of the school's current players (in 2015, that featured a matchup with Blue Jays teammate and former Chipola student Russell Martin).
"It was a critical time in my life where I left home for the first time at 18 years old. Culture shock, living my whole life in the Dominican Republic, Spanish being my first language. It was a huge adjustment, a huge period of growth in my life," Bautista said. "I'm very appreciative of the doors that they opened for me, all of the opportunities I gained from going to college in that particular location, and a lot of the people that helped me are still there. That's the No. 1 reason I go back."
David Adler is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter @_dadler.