A pitcher I once knew explained to me how he reached the major leagues: “There is no substitute for confidence,” he said. True, but there are other ingredients that stir the pot; determination, diligence and perseverance all figure into the mix. Vincenzo Aiello is one confident kid and he possesses all of the above. If there is anyone I’ve known that was going to make, it would be him.
In 1971, Luigi Aiello left his home in Naples, Italy to come to this country. He wound up in Brooklyn, where he ultimately met and married Gina Arico. Their three children were all born in Long Island College Hospital. 25-year-old Vincenzo is the oldest, 19 year-old Stephano is next and the youngest is 17-year-old Claudia. The family relocated to Huguenot, Staten Island in 1999, allowing the three siblings to grow up there.
Vincenzo’s love for the game of baseball precedes his high school experience at St. Joseph-By-the-Sea in Staten Island. It was in the early grades that a teacher asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up. “A baseball player,” he proudly proclaimed. “Well,” the teacher said. “Suppose that doesn’t happen, what else would you want to be?”
“A baseball player,” Vincenzo insisted. There was nothing else for him. After high school, Aiello earned a degree in clinical psychology at Ryder College in New Jersey. Having missed one season of playing baseball, he was eligible to play a fifth year and he did so at the University of Oklahoma. It was here that he was drafted in the 28th round by the major league Miami Marlins in 2017.
In college, Vincenzo started games and pitched out of the bullpen as both a closer and in short relief. Somehow, after his freshman year in college ball, he began to feel more comfortable out of the bullpen and it seemed to be that it was his best chance for major league success. He has a refreshing point of view regarding the role of the closer, stating “It doesn’t matter whether I close, or pitch the seventh or eighth inning – you still have to get three outs.”
Aiello throws a fastball that reaches 96 mph. His slider is his go-to pitch. “When I’m in trouble, it’s what I rely on,” he said.
He has a good change-up and those two pitches along with a four-seam and two-seam fastball complete an assortment of pitches to keep any hitter off balance. During his first year in pro ball, he played with two teams; his first assignment was with the Batavia Muckdogs in the short season Class A NY Penn League. He appeared in two games with the GCL Marlins in Rookie ball.
Vincenzo believes he can get his velocity as high as 100 mph with diligent work. It can be done with mechanics and he works tirelessly with coaches and viewing videos of his performances. “I want it bad enough,” he said, “that I’m willing to work as hard as it takes.”
His three minor league seasons were divided among six different clubs in the Marlins organization extending from Rookie Ball to Class AA. Aiello’s overall record so far is 11 wins against 5 defeats with an ERA of 2.90 in 89 games. Splitting his time in 2018 between the Greensboro Grasshoppers in the Class A Sally League and the Jupiter Hammerheads in Advanced A, he was 5-1 with 46.1 innings pitched, striking out 48. He was moved up to the AA Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp, where his 18.2 innings resulted in a 1.45 ERA. Aiello was invited to play in the Arizona Fall League in 2019, a positive sign of interest by the parent club. Working on pitching mechanics has taught the 25-year-old right-hander how to control the break on his slider, the greater spin giving a later break. All of this knowledge comes with the technology that has advanced the game almost beyond recognition to baseball purists, but one thing that has not changed, no matter the level of God given talent, the bottom line is hard work, and Vincenzo Aiello knows all about that.
His dad, Luigi, encourages his offspring not to stray too far away from their home. “Never go so far that you can’t come back often to be with family.” To some extent this may be an Italian thing; it seems I’ve heard it before; but Vincenzo is mindful of its validity. Right now there are just two places where he’d like to spend at least part of his year. Wichita, Kansas, where the Wind Surge, Miami’s AAA affiliate in the Pacific Coast League plays. The other city is Miami, where the Marlins play their baseball.